herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Capital's iconic tower nearly soared even higher

Liberty Hall under construction in 1965
Liberty Hall under construction in 1965
The view of Dublin city centre from the top of Liberty Hall. Picture credit; Damien Eagers 19/8/2015
Dublin bombing 1972

Liberty Hall could have been even taller.

An ambitious plan to demolish the building and replace it with a bigger, more accessible building was rejected in 2012.

Dublin City Council awarded planning permission for a new building with 23 storeys which would be 93 metres tall - 30 metres taller than the present building.

The new building would have been wider, too. It would have included a restaurant, a museum, a theatre and a "skydeck" viewing facility at the top.

But An Bord Pleanala refused permission to demolish the building. The appeals board also seemed to rule out a further application to develop the site.

In a unanimous decision, the board said it did not agree demolishing the structure was "justified".

Opposition to the plan came from An Taisce and corporate neighbours Irish Life Assurance and others.

The board said the site was of "national historic and social significance", and that it was a structure of "primary importance".

"Notwithstanding the quality of the architectural design, it is considered that the scale and, in particular, the height of the development as proposed, would be unacceptably dominant in the city," it ruled.

Amenities

"It would be visually intrusive in the streetscape and riverscape and would seriously injure the visual amenities of the city and its skyline," said the board.

The proposed development would also "seriously detract" from the Custom House, and would "intrude" on other important views across the city.

Siptu greeted the news with "extreme disappointment."

Labour historian Francis Devine (66), a retired trade union tutor, told the Herald that the rejection of the plan was a missed opportunity to develop a modern, people-friendly building.

He said it would have also provided a much-needed major construction project at a time of high unemployment and high emigration.

A veteran architect, who did not wish to give his name, told this newspaper he admired the 1965 construction.

Brave

"I think it was a brave building for its time. As a tall building, a tower shape is the best. A general rule is that it should be three times high as it is wide. It gives it a very strong and simple look.

"I think people are accustomed to it. It's a landmark. People accept it. It's a reference.

"It helps you find your way around the city. The city needs landmarks.

"If you think of a skyline I think it's very good. There's an established height in the city of about five floor . . . but, now and then, it needs punctuation," he said.

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