175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works || Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPW

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<ul><li><p>Irish Arts Review</p><p>Building for the Nation: Architectural Services at the OPWAuthor(s): Richard HurleySource: Irish Arts Review (2002-), Vol. 23, 175th Anniversary of the Office of Public Works(2006), pp. 12-17Published by: Irish Arts ReviewStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25503511 .Accessed: 12/06/2014 21:44</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Irish Arts Review is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Irish Arts Review(2002-).</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=iarhttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25503511?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>BUILDING FOR THE NATION - ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES AT THE OPW </p><p>..mmm i m </p><p>M </p><p>In an examination of recent, critically-acclaimed projects from Architectural Services </p><p>at the OPW, RICHARD HURLEY finds a sense of harmony grounded in a respect for </p><p>environment common to all structures </p><p>IjL rchitecture in Ireland has undergone a </p><p>I % dramatic change for the better in recent </p><p>i^^^m times, particularly during the past two </p><p>J?L JL. decades; Also many buildings constructed </p><p>during the 1970s and earlier are now making way for </p><p>renewed investment opportunities by hungry corporate </p><p>financial institutions. This is particularly true in rela </p><p>tion to commercial building, but other building types such as hospitals, built as 'state of the art* in the 1950s </p><p>olition. This reality of the temporary nature of archi- ^^^^H tecture in our time sends a strong message to architects. ^^^^H </p><p>Architecture, once the most permanent of images is ^^^^| now becoming the most vulnerable in the ever-changing ^^^^H timeline. Clients are no longer interested in^the idea of ^^^^H long life loose fit', which produced such drab results in ^^^^| the past This has given way to the search for an iconic ^^^^| image, which will promote the product The temptation ^^^^| for architects to respond to this cult of the ego is one ^^^^H </p><p>which needs restraint Countless global images flood ^^^^H </p><p>I </p><p>1 2 OPW 1?5TII ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>i^saijpA?? </p><p>175 OPW </p><p>17? Office of Public Works Otfig na nOtbreacha Poib? </p><p>!^H Wm </p><p>Architectural Services at the OPW </p><p>the architectural journals and media. Fam? comes </p><p>quickly, burns brightly and then is extinguished in the </p><p>next flurry of fiambovancy. </p><p>The impressive portfolio of work emanating from </p><p>Architectural Services at the Office of Public Works in </p><p>recent times steers well clear of such extremes. </p><p>Breaking away from the philosophy of gridlock (closed </p><p>symbol) their body of work conveys a more open </p><p>humanism, which reflects the ethos of Irish culture </p><p>and landscape; The impact of architecture and land </p><p>scape overlapping is very much part of the ?PW </p><p>dynamic. Contemporary Irish architecture does not, </p><p>strictly speaking, portray a national identity, with the </p><p>exception of the work of the late Liam McCormick </p><p>whose epic church buildings literally grew out of Irish </p><p>soil, wedded to place and climate. Only Finland can </p><p>claim an indigenous national architecture, at the heart 4tffl </p><p>1 EU Food and </p><p>Veterinary Office </p><p>Headquarters, CoMeath </p><p>2 New Custom </p><p>House, Dublin Port </p><p>3 Atrium, Galway </p><p>City Museum </p><p>1 3 </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>I BUILDING FOR THE NATION - ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES AT THE OPW </p><p>: </p><p>4 </p><p>4 Galway Custom </p><p>House extension </p><p>5 State Laboratory, Co Kildare;the board </p><p>room </p><p>6 EU Food and </p><p>Veterinary Office </p><p>Headquarters, Co Meath </p><p>of which lies its forests, the inspiration of Sibelius and </p><p>Aalto. Ireland has its lakes, rivers, mountains and </p><p>shorelines, and blossomed once in early Christian </p><p>times. In an organisation as big as the OPW there are </p><p>many forces at work and while many talents emerge </p><p>from time to time, there is no 'house style'. Nor should </p><p>there be. However, it is evident from the body of work </p><p>emerging in recent times that the pursuit of architec </p><p>ture is taken very seriously. It is impossible in a short </p><p>overview such as this to cover the wide spectrum of </p><p>work contained within the portfolio. One cannot ade </p><p>OPW architectural services have received numerous awards and </p><p>honours that reflect the esteem in which they are held by their peers </p><p>quately do justice to it. Principal Architect Patrick </p><p>Cooney, has succeeded Michael O'Doherty's long lead </p><p>ership role (1990-2004) and the transition is assured </p><p>by the design network of talented architects throughout </p><p>the organisation led by Ciar?n O'Connor together with </p><p>Liam Egan, Michael Haugh, Klaus Unger, Angela Rolfe </p><p>and Finbarr Wall. The net outcome is the emergence of </p><p>new arch-types possessing strong architectural content. </p><p>High quality is common to all, but the grammar is dif </p><p>ferent. Architecture does not need to aspire to great </p><p>ness to be good, but it does carry a symbol, open or </p><p>closed. OPW Architectural Services have received </p><p>numerous awards and honours that reflect the esteem </p><p>in which they are held by their peers, including the </p><p>gold medal of the Royal Institute of the Architects of </p><p>Ireland. Five or six major projects of recent times can </p><p>be considered here: the EU Food and Veterinary </p><p>Office, Dunsany, Co Meath (Figs l,ck,6); the Marine </p><p>Institute, Oranmore, Co Galway; the State Laboratory </p><p>, Celbridge, Co Kildare (Figs 5ck7 and); the Museum </p><p>of Irish County Life, Turlough House, Co Mayo (Figs </p><p>9-11); Leinster House 2000, Dublin (Fig 8); and the </p><p>Galway City Museum, Spanish Arch, Galway (Fig 3). </p><p>They all have one factor in common - </p><p>they inhabit </p><p>spectacular sites, both in urban and rural settings. In </p><p>an environmental sense, the sovereignty of Ireland is </p><p>still to be found in its landscape, not in its architecture. </p><p>In the early years of the state the national Romantic </p><p>Movement had played itself out. Nothing evolved from </p><p>1 4 I </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>1 ^ HH'^ i </p><p>the Celtic Revival in building terms and Hiberno </p><p>Romanesque as a movement went into decline very rap </p><p>idly. The emergence of functionalism and its failure to </p><p>satisfy deeper needs of society has, in recent years, led </p><p>to an explosion of 'iconic' architecture. In this media </p><p>driven pursuit of imagery, egocentric architects build as </p><p>if all history has ceased. There is an inescapable time </p><p>bound character to built form, and heroic architecture </p><p>has a pathetic vulnerability. The OPW has steered well </p><p>clear of such fantasy and has taken a reserved stance in </p><p>the middle ground. A strong landscape setting has a </p><p>sobering influence on design. Their response to this is </p><p>a contingent factor in a number of buildings illustrated </p><p>here - for example, the EU Food and Veterinary </p><p>Office, the State Laboratory Kildare, and Turlough </p><p>Park. In the two former buildings, a number of com </p><p>mon features are noticeable. Two-storey structures are </p><p>wrapped around a courtyard and internal routes are </p><p>developed linking the various functions within. This is </p><p>a convenient way of reducing the scale of the building, </p><p>but perhaps the courtyard idea is more urban than </p><p>rural, a place of assembly and accessibility to sur </p><p>roundings activities. Extended elevations on the outer </p><p>face of large courtyard buildings create interest. The </p><p>Ciar?n O'Connor </p><p>Assistant Principal Architect Ciar?n O'Connor qualified at the </p><p>Dublin Institute of Technology in 1979. He first gained </p><p>architectural and landscape experience in Germany and Canada, </p><p>before joining the OPW in 1991. </p><p>O'Connor's work has included numerous award-winning visitor and </p><p>cultural facilities throughout the country, and he has won many </p><p>awards and medals both here in Ireland and </p><p>abroad. In 1996 O'Connor was elected a </p><p>Fellow Member of the RIAI for 'work of an </p><p>exceptional architectural standard'. </p><p>O'Connor was born in Finglas, and having </p><p>grown up near Glasnevin he thoroughly enjoyed </p><p>working on the restoration of the Palm House </p><p>complex at the National Botanic Gardens. This </p><p>project, which has been recently completed is </p><p>to be awarded the European Union Prize for </p><p>Cultural Heritage in the Europa Nostra Awards </p><p>this June. He was involved in the original master plan and manage </p><p>ment plan drawn up in 1992, when the Botanical Gardens were </p><p>transferred from the Department of Agriculture to the OPW, and has </p><p>been closely involved ever since. As he explains: 'All the specialist </p><p>research on how to restore wrought and cast iron we had done for the </p><p>Turner Curvilinear Glasshouse in the mid-1990s was of great benefit </p><p>when we started work on the Palm House in 2004. We now had teak </p><p>to deal with as well, and a much taller building - </p><p>twenty-two metres </p><p>high, which is like a seven-storey building.' </p><p>Work at Glasnevin will now pause for the first time since 1992: </p><p>This is a chance to reassess a few things, including staff require </p><p>ments. In the autumn we hope to start on the last projects, including </p><p>the restoration of the remaining historic glasshouses: the Cactus </p><p>House, the Water Lily House and the Fern House.' </p><p>Other recent projects that O'Connor has been closely involved with </p><p>include the Galway City Museum, which is now complete and will be </p><p>opening this summer. Also in Co Galway, The Marine Institute </p><p>Headquarters, consisting of a laboratory, offices, library and cr?che, has </p><p>just been completed on a beautiful site at Rinvilie near Oranmore. </p><p>OPW 175TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION | </p><p>15 </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>if~: </p><p>1~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~,e </p><p>it!S., .. ..~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~.... . </p><p>corridor of very large cellular buildings can create </p><p>fatigue if not broken down into pathways that, taken </p><p>together, add up to the ideas of a 'route'. Nevertheless, </p><p>the routes within these buildings do not disorientate. </p><p>They present a series of surprises, having a sense of </p><p>location, indicating major elements, different functions </p><p>and acting as links to interrelationships. Thus the pit </p><p>falls of long corridors are largely avoided. Instead of </p><p>boredom, there is a path to be explored. Ciar?n </p><p>O'Connors palette of materials is expressed mainly by </p><p>his love and use of wood. That, and the use of white </p><p>stucco, identifies most if his work. The nature of wood </p><p>is explored to its limits and occasionally beyond. </p><p>Details are practical and consistent, but the activity is </p><p>never merely academic. Consider the EU Food and </p><p>Veterinary Office and the State Laboratory in Kildare </p><p>(Figs 1,6,7). In both these buildings, the use of wood is </p><p>strikingly evident. Wood is a natural material of </p><p>colour, texture and warmth, and these unique qualities </p><p>are developed in architecture. These two buildings </p><p>bring a tactile experience in the threatening world of </p><p>steel and plastics. The corduroy effects of vertical tim </p><p>bers and the layering of wall surfaces can be seen as a </p><p>sub-conscious desire to decorate. Purists and critics </p><p>might call it camouflage, but it is better seen as an over </p><p>all concept of surface treatment both inside and out, </p><p>responding to light and shadow. The hard edge of sei </p><p>Heroic architecture has a pathetic vulnerability. The OPW has steered well clear of such fantasy and has taken a reserved stance in the middle ground </p><p>rgk III </p><p>1 6 I ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^H </p><p>9~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ </p><p>This content downloaded from 91.229.229.212 on Thu, 12 Jun 2014 21:44:02 PMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>BUILDING FOR THE NATION - ARCHITECTURAL SERVICES AT THE OPW </p><p>ence is given a human face in the State Laboratory, </p><p>where an uncompromising statement of servicing sci </p><p>ence is suppressed. Timberclad chimneypots hardly suf </p><p>fice. Firstly resembling definitive cross-wall breaks with </p><p>in the building the chimneystack service pods is diffi </p><p>cult to read. Here, they are an important feature with </p><p>out disclosing real identity (Fig 7). </p><p>A very different challenge is resolved in the City Museum in Galway. Situated on the river Corrib, close </p><p>to Spanish Arch, the building reflects western light and </p><p>sound of water while affording dramatic views through </p><p>picture windows as the river flows towards the Atlantic. </p><p>The symbol of this museum is not one of a closed series </p><p>of galleries. It is more open than closed, and displays a </p><p>preoccupation with the use of light and in particular </p><p>with the path of the sun around the building. The atri </p><p>um (Fig 3), or hallowing out of the volume, along with </p><p>the curved external wall culminating in roof lighting, is </p><p>a major development. Faint echoes of Finland come to </p><p>mind, but none the worse for that. This is a rich and </p><p>promising road in the exploration of space. </p><p>The same observations in terms of space develop </p><p>ment can be attributed to the Museum of Country Life </p><p>at Turlough Park, Co Mayo designed by Senior </p><p>Architect Des Byrne (Figs 9-10). This building, more </p><p>than any other of its type, anywhere, has moved out of </p><p>the traditional museum mould of introspection. It </p><p>takes the visitor on a journey, along a path that </p><p>embraces not only artifacts, but also light and the land </p><p>scape and its environs. The experience of moving in </p><p>and around the museum is important as well as focus </p><p>ing on the exhibits. The path leads through three </p><p>floors of open inter-locking volumes, overlooking </p><p>spaces below and in distance affording surprising views </p><p>of historic ruins and conserved monuments. Buildings </p><p>are no longer required to function as a machine. Social </p><p>intercourse is now a factor and this is surely a healthy </p><p>development in the aesthetic form and function. </p><p>Stone is used extensively as external cladding at </p><p>Turlough Park. The ashlar type coursing of Wicklow </p><p>granite may belie its function, but it shines brightly in </p><p>the green landscape, as it nestles into the hill and steps </p><p>down to a river and a man-made lake. Stone is suitable...</p></li></ul>

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