Three groups of architects, comprising mainly Irish practices, have been chosen to go on to the final stage of the competition to redesign the ESB’s headquarters on Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin. The practices come in groups because the competition for the office redesign only allowed entries from practices that had a fee income of at least €2.5 million a year which, at the time, narrowed the field to about six architectural firms in Ireland.
The three winning consortiums are Grafton Architects, O’Mahony Pike, DEGW and BDSP; Henry J Lyons and Gilroy McMahon; and Scott Tallon Walker, the last being the only single practice in the final three. The competition attracted 44 entries across the world.
The ESB’s attempts over the years to upgrade its headquarters have often caused sparks and this time is no different. The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) complained to the European Commission over the restrictive conditions set for the competition. The then president of the RIAI, Seán O’Laoire, met the ESB to discuss the issue on behalf of all architectural practices: his practice, Murray O’Laoire, has since gone into liquidation.
The ESB’s redevelopment of its offices on Fitzwilliam Street in 1970 led to the demolition of 16 Georgian houses and the company says the latest redevelopment will not affect the Georgian houses it owns on the Mount Street side of its 2.5 acre site. It also requested that the new scheme respect its Georgian surroundings.