With or without U2?

Niki May Young
Tuesday 05 Aug 2008

Plans for Foster's U2 Tower halted amid market turbulance

The U2 Tower, due to rise in the docklands area of Dublin, has been hit by the turbulent market as plans have been halted by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and financial backers Geranger Ltd. The organisations have decided to extend the negotiation period to 31 October to allow for further analysis of the financial situation.

Last October Geranger Ltd, a consortium consisting of Ballymore Properties, Patrick McKillen and August Partners (U2 Band members and management) were selected by the DDDA as the provisional preferred bidder to design, construct and finance the €200 million U2 Tower and Britain Quay Building - one of the most significant architectural projects to be delivered in the regeneration of the Docklands area. The other 4 shortlisted designs to the EU tendering process were submitted by Treasury Holdings/Sisk; Mountbrook Homes, controlled by the developer Sean Dunne; the Dutch-based Royal BAM Group and the Riverside II Partnership.

Paul Maloney, Chief Executive of the Docklands Authority, noted in their choice that: “We are delighted to have achieved our ambition of realising an inspirational landmark design, while at the same time maximising public usage and access.

“This design will be a very special building for Docklands and Dublin City while integrating the Britain Quay and U2 Tower buildings in a distinct and coherent fashion on the waterfront. It will also provide visitors the opportunity to experience spectacular views across Dublin city and bay, and for the community offers significant social and affordable housing potential".

Foster + Partners designed the 120 metre high tower with a public viewing platform, hotel, retail and residential space including 20% social and affordable housing. At the top of the tower a suspended egg shape pod has been added to house U2’s state of the art recording studio.

The site where to tower is to be situated is of great architectural interest. Sited at the confluence of three waterways; the River Liffey, River Dodder and Grand Canal, Foster's design would join that of other world leading architects such as Studio Libeskind's Grand Canal Theatre, the Manuel Aires Mateus designed five star hotel, and the recently opened Grand Canal Square designed by Martha Schwartz.

If negotiations are completed successfully, construction is expected to begin in 2009.

Laura Salmi

On 31st October the DDDA announced that negotiations on the tower are to be suspended for up to twelve months "to allow for an improvement in the current uncertainty surrounding the property and financial markets". The statement added "The Docklands Authority continues to have full confidence in this landmark project for an inspirational U2 Tower building, which is an important element in the Master Plan for the area.

"The objective is to see this landmark project completed. However, given the current unfavourable economic environment, more time is needed at this juncture. The Docklands Authority will review all of its options on an on-going basis."

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