Monday 17 August 2009

ESB names architects shortlisted to design new Dublin headquarters

SOME OF Ireland’s leading architects as well as several well-known international names have been shortlisted to prepare detailed designs for the redevelopment of the ESB’s headquarters on Lower Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin.

The selection includes Grafton Architects, who won the 2008 World Building of the Year award for their Bocconi University faculty building in Milan; they entered into partnership with O’Mahony Pike Architects, who have designed some of Dublin’s best apartment buildings.

Also on the shortlist is Gilroy McMahon Architects, headed by Des McMahon, who was responsible for the redevelopment of Croke Park and is currently preparing plans to replace Liberty Hall; his collaborators for the ESB competition are Henry J Lyons and Partners.

Scott Tallon Walker, one of Ireland’s longest-established architectural firms, has also been selected. It appears on the shortlist in its own right, as it did not need to find partners to fulfil the ESB’s stipulation that entrants must have a turnover of at least €2.5 million a year.

This “entry bar” was the most controversial condition in the competition, as it effectively excluded most Irish architects unless they teamed up with other practices. It was strongly criticised by their professional body, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

OMS Architects, formerly known as Ó Muiré Smyth, found partners in Copenhagen-based 3XN Architects to meet the ESB’s condition, and they have jointly made the shortlist. A daring design by 3XN recently won an international competition for the Museum of Liverpool.

Other big names from abroad on the ESB’s shortlist are Skidmore Owings and Merrill, designers of numerous high-rise buildings including the Sears Tower in Chicago, and Rafael Vinóly, who is masterplanning the Battersea power station site in London for Treasury Holdings.

The shortlist also includes a joint submission by London-based BDP Architects, who has an office in Dublin, and Dixon Jones, who are chiefly known for their cultural projects. Another joint entry consists of London architects and space planners DEGW and engineers BDSP Ltd.

The ESB received a total of 44 submissions from more than 60 Irish and international practices, including a number of joint entries, as part of the initial phase of the competition.

Those on the shortlist have until November to prepare detailed designs for the Fitzwilliam Street site.

The company said it anticipated that three “winners” would be announced in early 2010. It will then be up to the ESB’s board to decide how to proceed with the project, which would provide a new headquarters containing at least 35,000sq m of office space.

The jury that selected the shortlist was chaired by ESB chairman Lochlann Quinn.

Irish Times

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