Re: Re: “Modern” Protected Structures in Dublin

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Now that the Bank of Ireland headquarters building on Lower Baggot Street is expected to be sold and leased back, many are wondering what the future holds for the 1970s structure. Emma Cullinan reports

“I do feel a link with it, of course, it’s almost as if it’s one of your children,” says architect Ronald Tallon about the Bank of Ireland headquarters building his practice, Scott Tallon Walker, designed in Baggot Street, Dublin 2, which is expected to go for sale.
While the bank is due to lease back the 1970s building for at least five years, the prospect of new owners does throw up the possibility of changes being made to the structure.
Many are wondering now whether the building, which was completed in 1975, should be listed. But while this would prevent changes being made to the building, a spokesman for Dublin City Council points out that even without such status, any changes would be subject to a rigorous planning process.
One of the criteria for protected status is that a building has to be of significant architectural interest and, so far, most of Dublin’s 8,500 listed buildings are Georgian, followed by Edwardian buildings, yet, with the advancement of architectural quality in Ireland recently, more contemporary buildings will need to be considered.
At the moment anyone can propose that a building be listed (or delisted). If the planning department deems it a suitable candidate, it is then put to the councillors.
If they give it the go-ahead, a report is done on the building. After that, public notices are served (in newspapers and so on) and the property owner is notified. After this, councillors decide whether to proceed. The whole process usually takes around six months.
The problem, says the council spokesman, is that what is deemed to be of architectural interest is subjective.
But, while people may be divided on whether they like the Bank of Ireland building or not, some may consider that it indeed has merit on historical grounds.
This was one of the first modern buildings to be slotted into a Georgian streetscape and was based on the work of architect Mies van der Rohe, in line with world trends at the time.
While anyone can propose a building for listing, Tallon himself is leaving it up to others to decide. It was German tutors at the Architectural Association school in London who helped to get another Scott Tallon Walker building listed: the Goulding Summerhouse in Enniskerry, Wicklow.
Michael Scott’s Busárus is also listed, as is the P J Carroll’s cigarette factory in Dundalk which Scott Tallon Walker is restoring for the Dundalk Institute of Technology. “There’s a sense of relief when one of your buildings is listed,” says Tallon. “It’s great to see a building restored and given a whole new life.”
When the practice designed the Carroll’s factory it was with a view to expanding it. Its modular design was added to three times in the past.
In the case of the Bank of Ireland building, the composition is important to its placing which will make it more difficult to expand. It’s in three parts, set around a central plaza, with two lower buildings on Baggot Street matching the scale of surrounding Georgian buildings while the higher building to the rear is set well away from the street frontage.
“If it is bought by a developer, I presume they may want to maximise the density of the site but it’s pretty dense anyway,” says Tallon. “It’s a nine-storey building in the centre of the city.
“They might get an extra floor on Baggot Street – it’s quite capable of taking it alright. I suppose they might want to take out the plaza and turn it into an atrium or something but it would be a shame because it’s one of the nice spaces that the public has access to.”
The bank building didn’t involve the demolition of Georgian houses, but instead replaced the Lincoln and Nowlan car assembly plant and showroom. While the dark building looks somewhat imposing, as the bank may well have wanted, the materials are of high quality and show a remarkable craftsmanship that has been lost to Ireland.
“We chose a curtain wall in bronze because it’s a beautiful material that lasts forever and needs no maintenance,” says Tallon.
It was also the material Mies van der Rohe used on his Seagram Building in New York. “What is amazing is that the whole curtain wall was made in Ireland by Smith and Pearson, an Irish firm with Irish craftsmen.
“That couldn’t happen today. Despite all our technology and all our advances no-one could do that in Ireland now.”
© The Irish Times

@Devin wrote:

Just reading the full text of this article, I’m starting to feel the building had better be listed sooner rather than later! What exactly does Ronald Tallon mean by a new owner “might get an extra floor on Baggot Street – it’s quite capable of taking it alright”? Would this not upset the composition? And how might an extra floor be executed – as a facisimile design? Would you still be able to get matching materials for a seamless look? Or maybe he’s thinking of a heritage mansard roof? Or a glass-canopied hkr-special perhaps??

And an atrium over the plaza? That would certainly respect the design!! Maybe a glass cage should be built over the whole thing.

Re the above discussion from a few months ago- I just heard the other day that an application is due to be submitted (if it hasn’t already been) for three extra floors on the BoI.

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