Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin
Here we see the building rising from the ashes in 1920 – the first floor is beginning to take shape.
Reaching completion here around early 1922.
We can get some vague sense of what the building would be like returned to its original paint scheme with some crude image trickery.
And the colour version for what it’s worth.
(Note what Ulster Bank’s high class aspirations next door have turned into within the space of months – unbelievable stuff).
The finest attribute of No. 1 O’Connell Street must surely be its beautiful original shop front, which survives almost entirely intact today. It is astounding the degree to which the early 1900s is overlooked in terms of shop front design – the principles of which are not only applicable to the modern store, they also set the standards that international chains unconsciously aspire to the world over. These chaps had the art fine-tuned when rebuilding the north inner city in the 1910s and 1920s, yet we gloss over them in favour of either poor reproductions of Victorian shop fronts or late 20th century models. We would do well to take a leaf out of the 1916 generation’s book.
The exquisitely proportioned, polished silver granite shop front of Hopkins & Hopkins.
Expansive display windows address Eden Quay, while a beautiful curved entrance bay appropriately addresses O’Connell Street. The chamfered corner bay was cleverly deployed for use as a captivating window display, catching the eye of thousands of pedestrians crossing O’Connell Bridge. The displays elegantly responded to the horizontal glazing bars of the windows, keeping the top lights free of clutter. Like the character of the whole building, the shop front exuded all the charms of a miniature trinket box quietly sitting at the entrance to O’Connell Street.
The shop front today, with a nasty 1980s signage panel erected over the original granite fascia where reticent pin-mounted lettering was once located. The entrance bay with curved glass has also been crudely altered. Why hold on to picturesque notions when one can have a utilitarian security lobby?
Handsome bronze capitals adorn the tops of the pilasters, while a further band of bronze dresses the top of the fascia panel.
A more subtle intervention was the replacement of decorative grilles underneath the windows with matching granite infill panels.
One of the more recognisable attributes of this building to regular passers-by are the beautiful bronze plinths to the shop front pilasters. One or two have been lazily replaced in brass.
The timber window frames also feature fine bronze dressings to their bases.
An ingenious original design feature of the shop front is the incorporation of remarkably slimline shutters in the windows, the running track of which can be seen in the images above and below. It is so discreet that one would have to challenge even the most highly factory-engineered window manufacturers to incorporate such a feature today.