Monday 15 October 2007

Vertigo . . . U2 tower to rise over the city

THE DUBLIN Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) has refused to reveal how much it spent on a design for the U2 Tower on Hanover Quay which was later discarded.

Yesterday, it announced that an Irish consortium had been selected to design and build the €200m landmark U2 Tower in at the mouth of the River Liffey, despite having selected a different "twisted tower" design in a separate competition held three years ago.

The approved 36-storey building, designed by British architect Norman Foster and which will be Ireland's tallest, will soar 120 metres above the docklands and includes a public viewing platform at 100 metres, a public amenity area at the base and hotel, retail, and residential accommodation including 34 social and affordable housing units.

At the top, the U2 studio is located in a suspended egg-shaped pod.

The DDDA announced yesterday that Geranger Ltd, a consortium consisting of Ballymore Properties, Patrick McKillen and August Partners -- U2 Band members and management -- had been selected to design, build and finance the U2 Tower.

CEO Paul Maloney said Geranger Ltd had been selected because its submission exceeded expectations, with the emergence of a "breathtaking design uniquely suited" to the prominent site.

"We are delighted to have achieved our ambition of realising an inspirational landmark design, while at the same time maximising public usage and access," he said.

"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," said Mr Moloney.

But the project has not been without controversy since the idea of a U2 tower was first mooted in 2001.

The DDDA served a compulsory purchase order on U2's Hanover Quay studio, but after a number of appeals to An Bord Pleanala the band concluded a deal with the authority which allowed them to have the top two floors of the new landmark tower which would bear their name.

More than 500 firms submitted entries to design the building, and a winner was chosen. But a complicated system used to ensure the impartiality of the process meant the DDDA could not identify the first winning entry, and a "twisted tower" design from Irish architectural firm BCDH was instead chosen in April 2004.

Four bidders, including Geranger Ltd, Sean Dunne's Mountbrook Homes, Treasury Holdings and River II Partnership, sought to build the tower. They were required to submit two designs -- one based on the BCDH concept and a new design for the whole site.

Yesterday's announcement means the BCDH proposal has been shelved.

The DDDA refused to confirm yesterday how much the original competition cost on the grounds of commercial sensitivity, but sources have put it as high as €10m.

Construction is expected to start next year, with a completion date of 2011.

The DDDA said it was not concerned about legal challenges to the decision.

Irish Independent

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