Bank of Ireland HQ revamp in limbo

Niki May Young
Wednesday 06 Aug 2008

Objectors threaten extension plans

A planning application submitted in June to extend the Bank of Ireland HQ in Dublin hangs in the balance as 17 objections have been submitted to Dublin council. The HKR Architects design was submitted for the internal reconfiguration and extension of the three buildings of the Bank of Ireland HQ on Lower Baggott Street, but the existing building is considered an icon in the city.

The modernist structure designed by Ronnie Tallon for Scott Tallon Walker in the 1970’s was sold by the Bank to the Shovlin and Quinlan consortium in 2006 for over € 200 million. Soon after, the building was voted a protected structure by Dublin City Council.

HKR Architects extension plan proposes the addition of two floors to Blocks A and C, and one over Block B. This would provide almost 16,000 sq m additional accommodation bringing the overall gross floor area to 37,295 sqm.

The ambition of the works to the current Bank of Ireland premises is to upgrade the existing space, which has come to the end of its working life, to market leading space, fit for the future demands of an international corporate headquarter building. The current bank premises is characterised by the strong bronze facades and the external entry plaza. Both of these architectural elements require attention to regain the profile and positive identity they once possessed. HKR Architects propose the enclosure of the plaza with a glass atrium, internalising and intensifying the activity and energy of this space, and replacement of the current tinted glass with a high performance triple-glazed unit with integrated interstitial sunscreen blind.

Ronnie Tallon is known for an open minded attitude towards the evolution of his projects and has in the past stated: ''I think the day is gone where you make a building and it's a complete entity, never to be touched again. That really doesn't happen in the real world, in the commercial world. Every building - almost every building that we made - has had to change over the years. It's a very simple concept. Good buildings can accept change. If you have a simple structure, I believe it can take expansion and it can take change without too much damage.''

Objectors to the project include the Architectural Association of Ireland, An Taisce (the National Trust of Ireland) and The Arts Council. The final decision rests with Dublin City Council's conservation architects and the outcome is expected to be announced in the next few months.

Laura Salmi

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