Tuesday 7 August 2007

Gasworks sparks plan for €100m theatre

MORE than 650 construction jobs will be created as work begins on Ireland's biggest high-end theatre.

The ailing industry will take centre stage in Dublin this month as the foundations are laid for the €100m building that will replace the old Gasworks site.

Labourers will get a welcome encore as the playhouse, designed by the architect behind New York's Ground Zero memorial, is erected over the next three years.

An additional 100 permanent staff will also be employed to work in the theatre that will front a 10,000 square foot public space in what was once a no-go area at Grand Canal Square.

U2 manager Paul McGuinness, veteran broadcaster and road safety watchdog Gay Byrne, and radio star Gerry Ryan have agreed to sit on the theatre's honorary board.

With 2,200 seats, the theatre will be the focal point of the large square, an effect that will be heightened by red glazed paving that mimics a red carpet to its door.

Its proportions make it the optimum size agreed by the Ancients for an amphitheatre, without the need for artificial amplification.

It has a capacity far ahead of the most comparable venue, the Abbey, which is also set to move to the Docklands.

Theatre, opera and ballet will be staged at the Daniel Libeskind-designed venue. Its neighbours on the square will include a five star hotel, shops and restaurant bars including Ely HQ, which has been trading since February.

One of Dublin's industrial landmarks - the three Victorian circular cast iron ring gas holders, known as Alliance, Clayton and Dickens, will be completely replaced under the plan.

Of these, the only remaining gasholder is the Alliance dating from the 1880s which now forms part of an apartment building on South Lotts Road.

The project is being constructed for developer Harry Crosbie's Point Village company and the public square is being designed by American landscape architect Martha Schwartz.

"Eight years ago this was an abandoned, polluted and unused no go area," said Mr Crosbie. "In a few years, we will have replaced the old gasometers with a brand new theatre bringing the finest formal productions the world has to offer to Grand Canal Harbour."

Anne-Marie Walsh
Irish Independent

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