Dawson Street Area

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  • #711300

    GrahamH
    Participant

    I think it’s time we start a thread on Dawson Street and its surrounding area, being as it is a distinctive historic quarter in the south city centre. Traditionally, Dawson Street has been a thoroughfare considered capable of looking after itself, with well established businesses and institutions in residence there, and its central location generating dependable activity and vitality.

    Unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different and has been for some time, in terms of the quality of business there, the condition of the public realm, and the street’s critical function as a pedestrian link to the museum district from the shopping district, and from Trinity College to St. Stephen’s Green. These issues have gone entirely unremarked upon, during and after the boom, when in reality, Dawson Street in stark terms is becoming the next Westmoreland Street. This is worth exploring in terms of the future role of the street, both in its own right, and as an artery serving a complex network of streets and spaces in what is probably the most sensitive, delicate part of Dublin outside of the exclusively Georgian areas.

    To get the ball rolling at the entrance to Dawson Street, word on the street is that Costa Coffee (MBCC Foods Ireland) have bagged the premier historic retail interior in the south city as part of its blitzkrieg on Dublin city centre of late – namely the former premises of the North British Assurance Company, more commonly known as Hanna’s bookshop at No. 1 Dawson Street.

    Aside from the architectural and planning implications, what immediately springs to mind here is the ankle-kicking frustration of the missed opportunity for Fixx Coffee, the independent, indigenous, Irish-owned and operated, premium quality outlet recently established further up Dawson Street, for setting up in this outstanding historic premises. A grevious shame for a street that has British and international multiples coming out its ears of late.

    In spite of this, this was a highly interesting planning case, where the application for change of use from retail to restaurant use was refused by Dublin City Council on the grounds of the increasing dominance of food services in the Dawson, Nassau and Grafton Streets areas, to the detriment of established retailing, and against provisions in the Development Plan pertaining to non-retailing uses being considered on a case by case basis and in the context of a compatible mix of uses. However, in a convincing submission to An Bord Pleanála by the client’s consultants, this decision was overturned, principally on the basis that this unique premises fails to perform on a viable level as a retail outlet, with recent ventures underperforming, and the failure of letting agents Lisney to secure any retail interest in two years of viewings. In spite of the building’s dominance on the streetscape, the lack of window frontage, austere entranceway and lack of scope for signage, all mitigate against a successful pitch.

    While I understand DCC’s concerns, and the commendable attempt to uphold standards in the Dawson Street area, the decision probably did not take adequate account of the distinctive character of this premises. In addressing this specific issue, the Board noted from the ‘Uses and Protected Structures’ section of the (now old) Development Plan: ‘where proposals relate to redundant buildings, including former financial buildings and places of worship, uses which are compatible with the original use and which facilitate public access to the primary spaces of theses buildings will be encouraged’. Somewhat oddly, the Board’s inspector also used the presence of similar outlets in the vicinity as relevant precedent for this application! The very opposite to the Council.

    A number of tight and necessary conditions were attached to the application (which the Conservation Officer broadly supported on a wider level), including the omission of brass branded lettering on the entrance steps (er, niiiice), the provision of wall mounted signage only where existing incisions exist (disconcertingly, I don’t think these are the best place for signage – over the windows), and quelle surprise, the omission of a red Costa metallic band the entire way around the building where there is a currently a black band (and a steel one before that for Eason). Any occupier of this premises love that darn band! They’ll never do the right thing and dump it. A golden bean may yet be reapplied for over the entrance.

    It is a shame that an international outlet of dubious fit-out standards has chosen this location, especially given the remarkably cheap fit-out of its new, supposedly flagship, College Green outlet with its flimsy oak veneered panels, nasty detailing and knock-off artwork with zero acknowledgement of place or context, slap bang in the heart of an historic urban centre. Jaysus, a token run of Malton prints blown up from National Gallery postcards would have lifted the place. Sadly, the proposed fit-out of the Dawson Street outlet also makes reference to that hideous ‘oak walling’ and its ilk, which has no place in its stunning mahogany panelled interior. This premises requires a tailored solution, with subtle branding employed through colour and soft furnishings. At least the Board threw out a raised platform and some of the proposed walling.

    We await the product on what is an otherwise good planning outcome.

    The building in which this premises is housed, Morrison Chambers, has always been one of my favourite buildings in Dublin and requires some exposure I feel, as it is a building of under-rated, outstanding quality. It is arguably the most accomplished Edwardian building in the city, including the entire 1910s and 1920s rebuilding of O’Connell Street and surrounding streets. In terms of architectural style, confidence, coherence and craftsmanship, this is a structure of remarkable distinction – no mean feat for the neoclassical school of the early 20th century, which more often than not failed to harmonise competing elements of streetscape context, modern functional requirements and ancient classical ideals into a singular, successful entity.

    Morrison Chambers was built as the Irish headquarters and Dublin branch of the North British Assurance Company in 1902-3 to the designs of the leading Glaswegian architect, George Washington Browne – his name is incorrectly stated in numerous publications.

    One of the most prolific architects in late Victorian Scotland, he and his partnership with John More Dick Peddie produced many of the most famous buildings in Edinburgh and other Scottish cities, specialising in particular in bank and insurance company premises. His heaving red sandstone pile of the Caledonian Hotel in Edinburgh bears a number of his trademark features as seen on his Dublin building: paired and tripartite corniced windows, paired columns, Diocletian windows and a chaste articulation of stonework.

    Dublin

    It is difficult to imagine the considerable impact this building had on the south city centre of the early 1900s. Not only was it one of the largest commercial buildings ever built in Dublin at this time, its streetscape context was also more modest than that we see today. It was designed to be seen and give dramatic new focus both to Nassau Street and Dawson Street, being built on the site of the long established Morrison’s Hotel. The much lower building line that existing at the time of construction was approximately that outlined below – thus, the ebullient rounded corner bay and dome were visible from as far away as Suffolk Street.

    It must also have had considerable impact from within the Trinity campus.

    Sadly, it is now only upon immediate approach to the building today that one gets a sense of its scale and grandeur.

    From viewing many of Washington Browne’s buildings around Britain courtesy of Google Street View, it becomes apparent that this much-ignored building at the bottom of Dawson Street was one of his finest works – indeed, it is arguably his best. While other designs are generally more Edwardian Renaissance in style, with polychromatic use of stone, brick and terracotta, and fantasy skylines, none display the immaculate resolution of Morrison Chambers. This is an ambitious building in a number of ways.

    Firstly, remarkably, it is faced entirely in one material – Irish limestone, probably from Ballinasloe. Not a single string course, cornice or balustrade is composed of any other stone. This marvellously ambitious conceit gives the impression that the entire building is carved out of a single block of stone – as if an immovable component of the urban landscape.

    Secondly, this is a building that relied heavily on carefully balanced design and quality craftsmanship for impact. This it achieved with gusto, demonstrating a thorough understanding amongst architect and mason of the special qualities of limestone. It is exceptionally rare one encounters a building that so perfectly balances the joy of decoration with the satisfaction of stripped, spare expression. The detailing of this building is a delight.

    The chaste style Browne so preferred in all his buildings works to marvellous effect with his trademark paired windows. Are they Grecian? Are they modernist? Does it matter? What is so delicious about limestone is the less decoration is employed, the more the qualities of the stone are expressed. The central pier alone is a single, unbroken slab of stone.

    Deep, crisp, chiselled voids define the ground floor.

  • #816420

    Anonymous

    And yet the occasional addition of a subtle surround and a cornice does not jarr in the slightest. Indeed, these are some of the finest windows in Dublin.

    The subtle blending of expression and restraint.

    Once decoration comes fully into play, it is bold and dramatic. What a scene.

    The expressive corner bay is well handled. If there is perhaps one fault, it is the fussy carved wreaths. The soiling doesn’t help matters. These appear to display the arms of the four provinces and those of Dublin City.

    The crisp articulartion of stone work continues into a handsome modillion cornice, a surprisingly well dressed attic storey, and these marvellous chimneys.

    Playfulness is evident also: why end in a dull balustrade pier when you can go out with a flourish?

    And the depth of that stone!

    The characteristic Edwardian entrance bay to the offices above is exquistely detailed. The best of its kind in the city.

  • #816421

    Anonymous

    Almost certainly original brass lettering.

    Not forgetting the largest cole hole cover I know of in Dublin.

    A unique structural innovation with this building can be seen on Nassau Street, where the Assurance Company required a parade of shops to generate a rent roll for the building. This was a typical demand for their other premises such as their Glasgow building, where a public office and entrance was incorporated on one street and a row of shops on the other. In Dublin, the branch was kept on the Dawson Street side with its high windows, with the shops on the longer Nassau Street frontage.

    To carry the enormous weight of the upper facade over large plate glass windows, a structural system was devised to distribute the load across the street frontage. In the case of Selfridges in London of 1909, steel was used behind stone cladding; in the case of Clerys of 1918-1921, concrete beams were employed. In the case of Morrison Chambers, the earliest of all, remarkable moulded cast-iron sections were deployed as shopfront surrounds.

    These are barely visible to the naked eye, being painted different colours and designed to imitate cut stone. Only the central shopfronts employ entirely moulded sections, as seen below.

    Others feature the moulded lintel section only, mounted on stone or stone-clad brick piers.

    The foundry mark remains nice and clear at the bases of these extraordinary units.

    Most innovative of all is the beam used over the entrance to the offices in a thoroughly stone-clad environment. Who but the most eagle-eyed of us would ever notice a limestone-painted cast-iron beam?!

    How clever.

    Only one pair of original shopfronts now survive intact, complete with elegant leaded glass lights and curious carved timber sections.

    Most of the shops appear to retain their good original plasterwork too.

  • #816422

    Anonymous

    Pleasantly, a similar shop theme may also be seen at one of Browne’s much earlier commissions, a vast tenement building dating to 1885, on Bruntsfield Place in Edinburgh.

    At the far end, a parade of shops was incorporated, which also display leaded lights, quirky carving and distinctive moulded frames (this time stone it seems) that are almost identical to those of cast-iron in Dublin.

    The main entrance door to the branch of Morrison Chambers features wonderfully idiosyncratic fruity carving, personifying abundance and prosperity.

    Above the doorway on an encormous keystone is positioned one of the most beautiful and virtually unknown pieces of sculpture in Dublin – an exquisite bronze statue upholding an olive wreath and torch: presumably Honour.

    Somewhat in short supply these days… (A clearer shot is needed – it was getting dark). Any ideas who it is by?

    We mustn’t forget the commemorative text on the Dawson Street elevation – presumably a sop to the Paddies. There was some disquiet over the demolition of the venerable Morrison’s.

    The single failing of the building is surely its most prominent feature – the dome. Cumbersome, leaden and dumpy, it is ignorantly shaped and crudely detailed.

    Hearteningly, this does not accord with the original design proposal, which featured elegant scrolled stone brackets and a regal lantern pinaccle, leading one to wonder if in fact the dome was later altered, or if budget cuts dictated matters at the time.

    It is possible it was the former, as it seems no expense was spared on this building. Even the curved corner bays appear to feature shallowly curved sashes and glass to gently emphasise the rounded corner. What an expense for such a subtle effect. Marvellous.

    We can of course tell this is a thoroughly exported, British building by the tiniest of features: there are no horns on the sashes. A little bit of Edinburgh comes to Dublin.

    In conclusion, this wonderfully expressive, civic minded building I think makes for the best resolved of all 20th century neoclassical buildings in Dublin. It is at once distinguished – decorous without prissiness, austere without coldness. It is a fitting theatrical scene for the countless generations of people that have waited for buses along the Trinity wall, and serves to highlight in only too stark terms the plummeting standards that were to follow in the immediate environs over the course of the new century that the construction of this magnificent building once heralded.

  • #816423

    Anonymous

    An excellent celebration of a very striking, but largely unrecognised building Graham. I often compare this building in my mind with the Pen Corner building on Dame Street. Another Edwardian confection?

    What a timely thread given that DCC are expected to publish plans for the refurbishment of the southern retail district, including Dawson Street, this year and the RPA have recently applied for a Railway Order for Luas BDX which includes stops on Dawson Street.

    I don’t know if I agree with your comment that Dawson Street is becoming the new Westmoreland Street. No sign of the tempting-and-tasty Supermacs, Carrolls Superstore or Griffins Londis. There remains a large number of high quality uses on the street including bookstores, restaurants, bars and boutique shops. The street also has a very healthy balance of office and commercial buildings adding to footfall, although one can see great potential for retail uses in sites such as the Sun Alliance building and New Ireland House. Perhaps your comments refer to the growing number of branded cafes on the street: Cafe Sol, Starbucks, Insomnia are all here, Costa was here (very brashly as we all remember) and it appears will make a “spectacular” comeback. Cafes are welcome but perhaps what sets these developments apart is their lack of regard for the quality of the street and the fact they seem hell bent on branding their stores to death!

    I have always found one of the more distinctive features on the street to be its shopfronts and in particular the wonderful curved glass and metal framed shopfronts, best exemplified by Hoggis Figgis. To my mind they portray one of the classiest shopfronts in the city and it often surprises me how few other retailers replicate this wonderful design.

    A number of smaller shops also retain these distinctive bowed shopfronts. However,the owner of the Insomnia cafe has recently applied for permission from DCC to remove the shopfront and replace it with a more standardised frontage as well as the removal of the railings and stepped plinth to the front of the shop at No. 51B Dawson Street. The case is still pending, though the period for comments has expired.

  • #816424

    Anonymous

    A Tour de Force as ever Graham, edutainment at its finest!
    The interior of Morrison chambers is very comfortable too with a lovely entrance foyer and a very generous double staircase iirc. The smaller office suite floor to ceiling heights seem quite low for their time but the amount of natural light in each unit is fantastic, a factor I presume attracted the non-retail jewelery sector to the building when I had reason to call there. The original elevator that occupies a central shaft complete with double trellis doors was still fully operational last time I would have been in there about five years ago also .

  • #816425

    Anonymous

    Spooky! That Bruntsfield tenement is just opposite the top of my street!! The cast iron lintels are pretty commonplace over here. They’re generally used for shopfronts at ground floor level of tenement buildings, stair door / window combo’s or where a bay window terminates above gronud floor (aka an oriel bay).

  • #816426

    Anonymous

    Ha brilliant DJM – a nice connection with home at the top of your street : ) Yes cast-iron is to be regularly seen used in this way in Edinburgh and Glasgow – almost no examples of it over here.

    That’s lovely tommyt re the elevator – let’s hope it’s still there! Relatively few of those left at this stage unfortunately. From what can be made out through the office entrance doors, the interior seems to have been overhauled from the original, but it’s hard to say from a remove. One other point of deviation from the historic drawing I forgot to mention is the omission of channelling from the ground floor elevation.

    The comparison with Westmoreland Street was probably a little harsh Stephen – I forgot what a damning insult it is these days! What I was referring to is the growing amount of service uses and international chains here, including Café Sol, Game, Waterstones (allbethey well established), Marco Pierre White (yes quality, but another samey chain), a poor new shop at the Green end, Insomnia and of course Starbucks (which I was in for the first time yesterday and couldn’t get over the incredibly cheap fit-out for a supposedly prestigious location). It is of concern that, like Dame Street, which is now almost entirely orientating towards night-time uses, Dawson Street is increasingly catering for office hours use only. Insomnia doesn’t even open on Sundays the street is that desolate – it possibly doesn’t open on Saturday either. Insanely, the important pedestrian link of the Royal Hibernian Way remains closed all day on Sunday.

    Of all streets, Dawson Street should be a destination thoroughfare, both for quality niche retail and services, and for leisure use as an attractive pedestrian environment. Sadly, the latter in particular is currently non-existent with a public realm in an advanced state of decay, and hostile parked taxis and loading bays commandeering the central section of the street. During work hours and Saturdays the street is chaotic with traffic, particularly buses, coaches and racing taxis, while the junction with Molesworth Street remains a three year old ‘temporary’ mess. The road surface of Dawson Street for cyclists is the most dangerous in the city, with pot holes and mismatched surfaces galore, and pulling out taxis incapable of responding to swerving cyclists and pedestrians trying to cross in the absence of proper crossings.

    In effect, Dawson Street is a grand old lady with fine attributes who is simultaneously badly presented and being pillaged of her jewelry. One gets the sense that the fashionability of Dawson Street of the 1990s has moved westwards to the Exchequer Street area, with Dawson Street now the Clerys of the south retail quarter – venerable but increasingly out of touch, selling its pride to whatever concession comes its way. This has to be arrested.

    In layout and built fabric, Dawson Street is the perfect city street, with a vibrant mixture of historic and modern retail premises, townhouses, institutions, focal public buildings and a gracious leafy setting, positioned between two green lungs. In turn, the businesses this building stock plays host to itself exemplifies diversity, ranging from booksellers, to quality clothiers, to wine and spirit merchants, to galleries, to restaurants and financial services. But this generally ‘higher order’ rank of uses needs to be consolidated for the street to become a destination. The thinking during the boom was that this area needs an anchor, namely in the form of a mini shopping centre on the site of Sun Alliance House. This is unnecessary for a revitalisation of the street’s fortunes – rather, an improvement of its public realm and the totally unrealised link with gracious Molesworth Street (a further discussion), a less hostile traffic environment, and a consolidation of quality uses would work wonders for the thoroughfare.

    It would appear that Dawson Street is now an ACA as part of a Conservation Plan proposal put forward in 2007 to designate it along with, somewhat bizarrely, the ‘red retail zone’ of South Great George’s Street and its environs – all combined to disjointedly form the South City Retail Quarter ACA. Yet Dawson Street is intrinsically linked to the retail area east of Grafton Street and the museum quarter (which was not designated), so why it was lumped in with an area in another district is not entirely clear. Nor why the prime development sites of Sun Alliance House, the House of Ireland corner building and indeed even No. 1 Dawson Street, Morrison Chambers, were excluded. How disingenuous could you be to exclude prominent development sites from the heart of an ACA? Nobody seems to know if this proposal was actually adopted though. It is listed on DCC’s website as an ACA adopted in March 2007, yet only a Conservation Plan is uploaded. One of the most recent planner’s reports for the street mentioned the South City Retail Quarter Conservation Plan, not an ACA. It can be seen listed below:

    http://www.dublincity.ie/PLANNING/HERITAGECONSERVATION/CONSERVATION/Pages/ArchitecturalConservartionAreas.aspx

    Incidentally, Fixx Coffee’s recent application for awnings on Sun Alliance House was rejected by DCC on the grounds of streetscape clutter, as per Costa before it. and is currently on appeal to An Bord Pleanála.

  • #816427

    Anonymous

    Incidentally, the South City Retail Quarter ACA is outlined on the zoning map. It is a proper ACA, I just don’t think many people (DCC staff included) are aware of it.

  • #816428

    Anonymous

    Great post Graham. Very interesting examination on one of those buildings thats actually very striking and grand but goes strangely unnoticed. Just looked up the architect and he produced some excellent buildings. Does he have any other works in Dublin or was he ever perhaps commissioned to build anything else here which remained unbuilt?

    Regarding the point you make about the parapet heights of the buildings on Nassau St being lower, I seem to remember seeing a photo once of the buildings that stood on those sites before the dreadful Norwich Union/Hibernian buildings were erected. As far as I can recall they were quite decorative Victorian edifaces that were a fair bit taller then the Georgian buildings housing The Porterhouse etc.

    Personally, I have always thought of Dawson Street as being one of my favourite streets in Dublin. I find it has just the right proportions. It is wide enough to have a “Big City” feel yet narrow enough to still retain an intimacy lacking in Dame Street or O’Connell Street. Although over the years it has suffered at the hands of developers and lost some fine buildings, such as the Royal Hibernian Hotel and the exquisite Victorian school buildings on the site of the European Union offices, it still contains a few gems such as Hoggis Figgis, The Mansion House, St Anns Church (Which would be even more spectacular had its spires been completed) and the Royal Irish Academys very elegant townhouse. That being said, even its more modern developments such as The Royal Hibernian Way, and the twin redbrick 1980s office blocks at the Molesworth Street junction are not the worst of their kind in the city. The only genuinely ugly developments are opposite Morrisson Chambers, and even they are mercifully partially hidden by trees. My favourite stretch is just in opposite the Mansion House, the group composing the AA, La Stampa Hotel, Cafe-en-Seine etc, they exude a more cosmopolitan and manicured vibe missing from many of Dublins streets.

    I agree with other posters comments regarding the proliferation of Coffee shops. Whilst they may “fit in” with the kind of clientele that frequent the area, they can seem a bit commercial and tacky. Already a few long standing niche retailers have gone, for example a furniture/art shop that was situated near where Starbucks is now located. However, there are some quality traders left such as Thomas Pink, Hoggis Figis, Waterstones, The Gallery on the Duke St corner and that little treasure trove;P the Celtic Whiskey shop! Honourable mention should also go to the Dawson Lounge…purely for individuality;)

    For future strategy, well with Grafton unable to provide much additional retail space, it has been suggested that the half dozen or so “modern” office blocks on Dawson St, which are now obsolete, could now provide the footprint for Department stores wishing to locate in Dublin. Maybe that was Just Celtic tiger chatter, but, it could provide a route to sustaining Dawson street whilst attraction the right quality of occupier.

    C

  • #816429

    Anonymous

    Brilliant analysis, Graham! More, please.

  • #816430

    Anonymous

    Ha thanks trace.

    @thebig C wrote:

    I seem to remember seeing a photo once of the buildings that stood on those sites before the dreadful Norwich Union/Hibernian buildings were erected. As far as I can recall they were quite decorative Victorian edifaces that were a fair bit taller then the Georgian buildings housing The Porterhouse etc.

    Yes the corner buildings were indeed of late Victorian vintage, but quite modest in size. Here is the chamfered corner as photographed by Charles Cushman on that gloriously sunny Thursday the 8th of June 1961. It looks to be a fairly leisurely 10 or 11am. A most unorthodox set of exposed chimneys and quaint afterthought Georgian facades in the distance.

    A rather gauche and crudely detailed affair, this curious corner building of c. 1880 made for a nonetheless charming junction marker for what must have been one of the smallest plots of any corner building in the city. The large windows at first floor level would have had stunning views over the grounds of Trinity and were almost certainly designed for a commercial use on this floor originally. Nice bottle green sashes.

    The relatively new, sophisticated vitrolite shopfront with black granite skirting and fine bronze display windows handles the amalgamation of the adjoining property quite well with a subtle broad pier at the junction.

    Ten years later and Morrison Chambers features in Dublin City Council Library Services’ recent upload of photographs. Our Victorian only has a year or two left of its life here, with half of the Norwich Union block already built in the background. At least the half nets are still suspended in the upstairs windows!

    What really stands out here is the eye-catching sharp kink in the street line at the junction of Morrison Chambers and the neighbouring building to the left, now sadly demolished. Not only was the kink a charming reminder of the antiquity of Nassau Street, or St. Patrick’s Well Lane, so was this particularly ancient looking buiding, where its upper windows were smaller than the first floor’s, suggesting heavy modification of an early house. Of course this stretch of Nassau Street was populated with a number of these buildings prior to the 1970s.

    What is interesting about the shopfronts of Morrison Chambers is that the limestone piers of the nearest shopfronts had already been painted over by this point (only to be stripped back again later in the century). The paint effect is certainly striking.

    As a potential unified scheme today, individually mounted or elegantly painted lettering on the cast-iron lintels would surely be the best option, thus freeing up all glazing for unhindered and uniform exposure.

    Needless to say, the potential for restrained white floodlighting of the upper facade is tantalising!

  • #816431

    Anonymous

    Interesting variation on the art deco lampstands in that image. The lanterns are more modern looking

  • #816432

    Anonymous

    Thanks for that post GrahamH:)

    I had never seen a pic of the corner building before. Its very interesting if perhaps a little domestic and understated for such a prominent position. The buildings I was talking about were probably a little further down towards Grafton St. I think I remember which book they are in. Obviously, they aren’t on Dawson St, but I was mentioning them in relation to parapet height.

    C

  • #816433

    Anonymous

    Back to those distinctive bow-fronted shopfronts at No.51 Dawson Street which I mentioned above

    Permission has now been granted by DCC for a retail unit to replace the cafe and office in place.

    PROTECTED STRUCTURE: 1. Change of use to retail of the existing rear ground floor office unit and associated basement. 2. The merging of the existing office and retail unit to provide a single retail unit (138msq) at ground floor and associated services and storage at basement level. 3. The removal of the existing railings and stepped access to Dawson Street and lowering of ground floor level into existing basement area, to allow level access to the proposed retail unit. 4. The provision of a new shop front.

    Contrary to what I imagined, the plans are to retain the bow-frontage and to revise the shopfront to better match its neighbour at 51a. The stepped plinth area to the front is to be removed (as is the base next door).

    An excerpt from the elevation plans.

  • #816434

    Anonymous

    One of the city’s classier shopfronts (IMO)

    Hoggis Figgis is actually owned by HMV who also own Waterstones – I didn’t know that until recently. Hopefully recent troubles at HMV don’t impact on these two big anchors for the street.

  • #816435

    Anonymous

    Anybody have pics of St Anns School/Molesworth Hall.

    The only pictures I have seen are when I was already partially demolished by that spiv Gallagher.

  • #816436

    Anonymous

    @StephenC wrote:

    Hoggis Figgis is actually owned by HMV who also own Waterstones – I didn’t know that until recently. Hopefully recent troubles at HMV don’t impact on these two big anchors for the street.

    You spoke too soon unfortunately, Waterstones to close on Dawson St, Hodges Figges to remain.
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2011/0201/breaking54.html

    Pity, its a fantastic space served well as a book store.

  • #816437

    Paul Clerkin
    Keymaster

    Going to be a big loss to the street – wonder what will become of the premises – its quite the rambling space.

  • #816438

    admin
    Keymaster

    In a building like that with character it is tricky enough; some one with a lot of nuts could make a lot of money opening it as a giant coffee shop and renting concessions to smaller specialist book sellers and other niche culture offers; no doubt some of the academic book specialists like Alan Hanna who are destinations in the purest sense of the concept could get some very cheap space out of it on an upper floor.

    Waterstones closed one or two very surprising locations in the UK which you would have clearly have identified as very suitable catchments; one senses once HMV get their covenant test out of the way in April then the picture will become a lot clearer. It is a very sad fact that only newspaper distributors such as Easons and WH Smith seem to be able to survive in the mainstream book retail game and given their approaches to lighting and fit outs generally these operators are not a comfortable environment to make a €50 decision; Dublin without Hodges Figges would be a poorer place…

  • #816439

    Anonymous

    Hey

    I have found the pic I talked about earlier in the thread, but, I not sure I’ll be able to scan it. I is from Derek Stanleys “Central Dublin”.

    The picture is taken from Nassau St near the Junction with Dawson St looking towards the Nassau/Grafton intersection. Despite the tight angle, two quite elegant victorian buildings can be seen roughly where the hideous conrete 1960s monstrocity (orange and white) is sited today. Due to the faded quality of the picture you can’t make out too much. However, its clear that both buildings are in a vaguely Italianate style reminisent of Deanes Palace St bank. In particular, the building closest to Grafton St seems to have very distinguished bay windows.

    Very little in the way of minute detail is clear but the furthest building appears to have the name ” Wilson ” on one of its windows.

    Can anybody post a better pic?? Even from the poor quality photo they seem like a fine accompaniment to Morrisson Chambers. Certainly better then their replacement!

    C

  • #816440

    Anonymous

    I love this new revamp of the former Ron Blacks…now called 37. Gaudy never looked so good.

  • #816441

    Anonymous

    Smart little Burrito Bar just a little farther along..beside the entrance lane into the Auto-mobile Association – anyone know the street name.

    Its so simple…good palette of colours, details, understated design of signage. Why is it such a disaster elsewhere in the city.

    There’s a good degree of vacancy on Dawson Street at the moment, and a particular lack of anchors, the the street is holding its own.

  • #816442

    admin
    Keymaster

    Its just the entrance to the RAC garage as far as I know; only bicycle lanes of 20m in length get a name!!!

    Dawson Street will not blossom until Luas gets done; its like a dark cloud hanging over the retail environment given the RPA’s track record delivering phase 1 – with particular reference to contractor management. EIB stimulus will certainly form part of the landscape in the next 12-60 months; the dot joining process up to Broombridge must form part of this.

    Starting at Dawson Street there is a real opportunity to follow the Luas Route through to the top of O’Connell Street as a leisure focussed retail lung with Luas and Bicycle access only; no confusing people with Luas down Marlborough Street; Route 1 is the only gig here.

    As for 37 – Gaucho Grill pulled a lease on this stretch; no doubt the superior FXB are relieved that their trade will not cannabilised…

  • #816443

    Anonymous

    @thebig C wrote:

    Thanks for that post GrahamH:)

    I had never seen a pic of the corner building before. Its very interesting if perhaps a little domestic and understated for such a prominent position. The buildings I was talking about were probably a little further down towards Grafton St. I think I remember which book they are in. Obviously, they aren’t on Dawson St, but I was mentioning them in relation to parapet height.

    C

    I actually found an extremely good photo of the buildings I am refering to, unfortunately it was in the Porterhouse and too dark to use my camera phone effectively! It is the first shot I have seen of this stretch which is straight-on and not at a skewed angle.

    C

  • #816444

    Anonymous

    It regularly fascinates me how structures, streetscapes and even building typologies that failed to make it into Frank McDonald’s The Destruction of Dublin quite literally vanished from the public consciousness – testament, no doubt, to the comprehensiveness of that work. This intriguing stretch on Nassau Street, though alluded to by Frank in the form of its replacement – Nassau House and Norwich Union House – is one such example. I too have some images of the middle of the terrace displaying a variety of Victorian commercial confections that are worth digging out – the largest possibly being built for the Alliance Assurance Company.

    On other news, there are two significant planning applications currently live for restaurant/café/bar/superpub uses on Dawson Street – one in the basement and rear church of the largest terraced town house on the thoroughfare at Number 8 (next to the former Waterstones), and another to all the floors and basement of the former Twohigs Travel premises at the other end of the street and across the road at Number 31. The latter has a delicate late Regency exterior that belies possible earlier origins, with a corner chimneybreast to the rear room.

    Both have gone to substantial further information on architectural heritage and operating use grounds, suggesting the lack of pre-planning consultations. It never fails to amaze me how major projects get lobbed in cold to the planning system – frankly, there should be some form of requirement to engage in pre-planning for certain types of development to avoid wasting everyone’s time.

  • #816445

    Anonymous

    Planner probably feels making time for a preplanning is a waste of his/her time…tea breaks to be had.

  • #816446

    Anonymous

    Hey Graham, if you could dig out some photos that would be great. I will try to take a picture of the photo in The Porterhouse as I will be in the area on Wednesday.

    Its true, there is always much outrage at the passing of anything Georgian. However, Victorian architecture is often swept aside without a murmer. Which is odd when you consider how comparitively rare Victoriana is in Dublin.

    C

  • #816447

    Anonymous

    Its funny how planning pressures can be seen unfolding. A case in point is the Dawson Street/ Molesworth Street area which is surely set to see big changes as its older 70s and 80s office blocks come up for demolition and redevelopment.

    It seems the passport office is first up..

    viewtopic.php?f=15&t=6813&p=115915&hilit=molesworth#p115915

    http://www.irishtimes.com/business/sectors/commercial-property/30m-plan-for-dublin-passport-office-1.1554069

    From Wednesday’s Irish Times

    A 40-year-old office building occupied by estate agent Jones Lang LaSalle and the Passport Office at Molesworth Street and South Frederick Street in Dublin city centre is in line to be demolished and replaced by a more spacious block under a new planning application submitted to Dublin City Council.
    The Irish Property Unit Trust, which owns and manages 58 primarily freehold properties for pension funds and charities, has sought permission to replace the five-storey Molesworth Building and the Frederick Building extending to 7,896sq m (84,990sq ft) with a four-storey block that will have a gross floor area of 12,733sq m (137,055sq ft).
    The redevelopment is expected to cost in excess of €30 million.
    A spokeswoman for the Office of Public Works said the lease on the Passport Office expires towards the end of next year and it was currently assessing the suitability of other sites in the city centre. It intends to locate the new office in a State-owned property, if one can be identified, to avoid entering into another lease. The current rent for the Passport Office is €529,221 a year.
    The planning application describes the existing building as a “bland, characterless and undistinguised” structure of machine-made brick which did not fit in with the surrounding buildings. The proposed replacement would use brick and stone with “vertical stone fins” and “projecting stone sills” to recall the patterns of the white-painted Georgian window reveals. The new development would fit more sympathically with the surrounding Georgian buildings, the applicants claim.
    The facade of the new block will be no higher than the current building, which “fails to meet modern occupier requirements”, according to one source.

    Shallow height
    The source said the potential to carry out an effective refurbishment was compromised by the existing shallow floor-to-ceiling heights of 3m. This is significantly less than the standard 3.75m to 4m height.
    Under plans prepared by Henry J Lyons Architects, the new building will, like the present block, have a double basement car park to cater for 34 private car spaces and 58 public car spaces.
    There will also be 128 bicycle parking spaces and two motorbike spaces.
    The new building will have a terrace setback at fourth- and fifth-floor levels along Molesworth Street, South Frederick Street and Setanta Place.
    It will also have a terrace at fifth-floor level at the corner of Molesworth Street and South Frederick Street.

  • #816448

    Anonymous

    @grahamh wrote:

    It regularly fascinates me how structures, streetscapes and even building typologies that failed to make it into Frank McDonald’s The Destruction of Dublin quite literally vanished from the public consciousness – testament, no doubt, to the comprehensiveness of that work. This intriguing stretch on Nassau Street, though alluded to by Frank in the form of its replacement – Nassau House and Norwich Union House – is one such example. I too have some images of the middle of the terrace displaying a variety of Victorian commercial confections that are worth digging out – the largest possibly being built for the Alliance Assurance Company.

    On other news, there are two significant planning applications currently live for restaurant/café/bar/superpub uses on Dawson Street – one in the basement and rear church of the largest terraced town house on the thoroughfare at Number 8 (next to the former Waterstones), and another to all the floors and basement of the former Twohigs Travel premises at the other end of the street and across the road at Number 31. The latter has a delicate late Regency exterior that belies possible earlier origins, with a corner chimneybreast to the rear room.

    Both have gone to substantial further information on architectural heritage and operating use grounds, suggesting the lack of pre-planning consultations. It never fails to amaze me how major projects get lobbed in cold to the planning system – frankly, there should be some form of requirement to engage in pre-planning for certain types of development to avoid wasting everyone’s time.

    Hey

    I actually to a pic of the framed photo I referred to of this length of Streetscape that’s in the Porterhouse. It came out reasonably ok so I forwarded it to Paul. Hopefully, it might appear on Archiseek soon….assuming I didn’t make an arse of linking to the pic (quiet possible:P)!!

    C

  • #816449

    Anonymous

    Passport Office Building

    It would be nice to be able to greet news of the proposed demolition of the wretched Passport Office block on Molesworth Street with the satisfaction of long awaited vengeance, but since the proposed replacement block manages to repeat all the same mistakes as its 1974 predecessor, but on a louder scale, we’re going to have to put satisfaction on hold.


    the ‘Molesworth Building’, named in desecration of the family that laid out this noble street in 1726.


    a view of Molesworth Street just as the hoarding was going up for the demolition of the five houses that made way for this appalling office block.

    Whereas the existing block could be described as dull to the point of knowing its own worthlessness, the proposed replacement block, from the images scanned on the planning file [Reg. no. 3312/13], doesn’t even have that merit.

    As we’ve come to expect in situations like this, there is an wholly superfluous Archaeological Assessment Report thrown in with the application, produced on this occasion apparently in response to a phantom Recorded Monument number that has somehow managed to linger on the RMP Map of the area long after anything remotely historical was eradicated by the 6m deep double basement car park. As bogus as the Archaeological Assessment Report is, at least it gets much of its background information on the original development of the street from an inter-web article written by Turtle Bunbury, a writer with an interest in history who had gone to the bother of looking it up.

    In contrast to the weighty, but pointless, Archaeological Assessment Report, the distinctly light weight report submitted by ‘Historic Buildings Consultant’, David Slattery, manages to garble even these basic facts about the original development of the street with Slattery telling us that Molesworth Street was developed in the early 18th century on ground ”. . . within the Dawson Estate which adjoined the gardens of Leinster House.”

    With a statement that geographically and chronologically challenged, it’s hard to take the subsequent architectural evaluation seriously. For what it’s worth the evaluation goes on to say exactly what you’d expect it to say; the existing office block is ‘bland and repetitive’ and the new office block will be ‘complex and expressive’, from which I think we can conclude that the cheque has cleared.

    Molesworth Street was a planned street, therefore it had ‘original’ houses, all of which were gable fronted and all of which were completed within thirty five years of the initial laying out of the street. At the very least, a proper assessment of the original streetscape should be submitted with any application for redevelopment of this scale and an architectural response provided that both, acknowledges the original plot widths, and is respectful of the two surviving original houses that adjoin the site to the east.

    Lobbing in another bog-standard office block with a bog-standard, overblown, corner feature [extra storey] and – concrete fins that echo the plaster reveals of Georgian windows – on a street that was characterized by flush-framed windows and subtle variations in building widths and gable heights, is an indictment of corporate ignorance and the professionals that feed off it.

    Molesworth Street deserves better than this.

  • #816450

    Anonymous

    no doubt you will pay your €20 and pass on your concerns to DCC. Perhaps include an indication of what you think might look acceptable.

  • #816451

    Anonymous

    Anyone know where one might find a picture of the proposed building.

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