Category: Archive

Editorial: Ad astra

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The city’s millennium spire stands both out and up. It is almost 400 feet high. That’s five times higher than the adjacent General Post Office and literally towering in a city that has been notoriously skittish about its skyline in modern times. Many Dubliners will recall the fiasco not so long ago when the new Central Bank Building on Dame Street had to have its top floors lopped off at the last minute in order to come into line with the city’s topsy-turvy planning laws.
It’s been a while since Dublin stood out as an architectural gem. Indeed, you would have to travel back in time to the 18th century to stand in a Dublin that could compete architecturally with the larger, grander capitals of Europe. More recent times have been marred by errors and indifference.
The city’s magnificent Georgian squares began falling into neglect in the 20th century and large chunks of them were torn down in the 1950s and ’60s to make way for “modern” office buildings that do the eye no favors.
Not unexpectedly, Dubliners will have varied opinions about the new spire, or spike. Some are already calling it the “stiletto in the ghetto.” An unkind cut. Love it or hate it, the new presence on Dublin’s ground, and in its air, does command attention and could well signal the dawn of a more adventurous architectural era in a somewhat careworn town.
On a more practical level, the structure will likely draw many more visitors to O’Connell Street, a once majestic artery that has been engulfed by some of the tackier manifestations of contemporary commercialism.
The spire/spike/stiletto has been designed to last 500 years. It certainly doesn’t lack for ambition. Hopefully, it isn’t of the blind variety.

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