Re: Re: A city constrained by a Frank McDonald credo would be ‘dismal and prissy’ –
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I think that this reply basically sums up all that’s bad with developers in this country – breathtaking arrogance, no willingness to accept past mistakes (the merchant’s quay shopping centre is truly indefensable no matter what the ecomomic climate was at the time), and a general sense that he believes that all development is good development… For god’s sake the Lavitts Quay development is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen and I’d challenge anyone to defend it. In many ways its worse than Merchant’s Quay because so much money has been thrown at it that the end result could have easily been something with a bit of grace… Exactly the same is true of Mahon Point – another completely soulless tarmac desert with some tin boxes thrown around and a bit of copper to make it “interesting”, It’s Blanchardstown/Liffey Valley/Tallaght all over again and it doesnt work! Why do you think all of the above are looking at major redevelopment plans already involving streets and places and mixed uses.
I’m not saying that I totally agree with McDonald’s article – there are lots of smaller scale developments of high quality going on and a great energy in the city at the moment. Ballincollig Town Centre is a very interesting looking scheme and I’m looking forward to seeing it in the flesh. But I’d rather have Frank McDonald, someone who knows something about architectural quality and good urban spaces, lecture me than some money grabbing developer…
The one thing I’ve come to learn over the years about architecture is (to borrow a good friend’s phrase) “it’s a matter of opinion, and my opinion matters”. Architecture, for me, has always been about creating an environment which betters the nature of an area for the people – it is an increasingly important facet of our society and one which I believe deserves recognition. My belief is that boundaries need to be consistently challenged – like any foray, mistakes are made. It is part of the learning process and as with anything, design cannot progress without lessons – the trick is to minimise these mistakes. We are a lucky society – the public have become increasingly aware of the benefits and importance of architecture – because in today’s environment, we are in a position to do so. Frankly, I’m delighted we are – and this type of debate is part of that process in the progression of our ideas about architecture, urban design and development as a whole.
The recent winner of the Kyrls Quay CCC/RIAI Architectural Ideas Competition was awarded to Conroy Architecture – a design, I personally find utterly boring. Is that an attack on Conroy Architecture’s skill, imagination or workmanship? Not in the least, it is an opinion, a panel of architecurally apt individuals, as well as individuals with extensive planning and urban design knowledge deemed the project worthy of the award. Doesn’t mean I like it though. Likewise, similar panels found reason to award the likes of 21 Lavitts Quay, CityQuarter, Mahon Point, Victoria Mills…and so on. Does it mean you have to like it? Nope. Frank McDonald’s opinion is valid, it’s the otherside of the coin, but there is a line that must be thread – notably in his argument, Mr. McDonald went for expressing his opinion to borderline attack. Where people may not see this is perhaps because they are unfamiliar with the context. I happen to like 21 Lavitts Quay for example, I think Patrick Cashman & Associates provided an interesting variance in shape, height and materials shielding what is generally accepted as something of an eyesore – give me 21 Lavitts Quay any day of the week. In fact, I hope similar imagination and scale is applied to the future OCP effort at 16 Lavitts Quay – obviously with respect to the PS. It will bring continuity and variance to the quayside – one which can comfortably accommodate such scale, and prior to that one which was a mismatch of structural heights, qualities (dereliction) and gaping spaces which brought an air of inconsistency and ill care to the quayside. As for MQ, would I like to see the facades enhanced? Yes – but I still think MQ was a helluva positive development for Cork and I don’t think the disdain displayed by some toward it is worthy in the context. It’s easy for us to do so from our comfortable position now. As far as that goes, let me just say Eden Quay, Dublin – and that’s a product of our modern day, or perhaps the former Jurys in Waterford…. but this is not a comparitive, what is interesting to me is why in an article suppose to be related to the progress of architecture in Cork of recent times (in and around Cork2005) did Mr. McDonald feel the need to cite various developments as far back as 1989 to compound his argument? Mr. McDonald also failed to note quality and prominent architectural additions such as Camden Court, Coppinger Court or the redevelopment of the Kino?
Referring to Mr. O’Callaghan’s reply as ‘arrogant’ I think is somewhat arrogant in itself – I’m not critiquing anyone’s personal character here – but I’m simply saying that his reply, as far as I’m concerned is a clear indication of how importantly held his work is to him. It’s easy for cynics to cite ‘money grabbing’ etc etc – it’s an easy stereotype – the stereotype of politicians is corrupt, architects as arrogant, models as bimbos, Americans as obnoxious, the Irish as alcoholic red-heads dressed in green…but of course these are only stereotypes and you know as well as I do that these perceptions fall short greatly. Some of the nicest most decent people I know are architects, politicians and well, as for models – unfortunately I don’t know enough! :p The point I’m trying to make is that it’s an unfair generalisation and I am impressed that Mr. O’Callaghan felt so strongly that he did reply, it is clear that he feels passionately about his work and of his home. I think that’s a very good positive. Well done.