Blueprint for €60m overhaul of Parnell Square into cultural quarter

Ali Grehan, Dublin City architect, Dublin Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muiri, and Peter Collins, MD of Kennedy Wilson Europe, at the launch of details about the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter yesterday.  Picture: Photocall Ireland

Plans have been unveiled for a €60m cultural quarter in one of Dublin’s finest Georgian squares.

A new city library will be the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Parnell Square, at the head of the capital’s main thoroughfare O’Connell St, under the proposals.

Dublin City Council said that Beverly Hills-based property investment company Kennedy Wilson was donating €2.5m “on a philanthropic basis” to get the project off the ground.

The firm will spearhead a drive to raise the remaining €57.5m needed from investors to complete the overhaul.

Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí said the new public landmark will inspire thephysical and economic regeneration of the historic area.

“Parnell Square is the first and finest of Dublin’s Georgian squares. The area has a rich and important history with philanthropic origins,” he said.

“This bold and visionary project can act as a catalyst for regeneration acrossthe city, drawing Dubliners and visitors of all ages in new directions and creating new business opportunities.”

The north side of the square will be pedestrianised and a new civic plaza created to link the new library with the existing Hugh Lane Gallery as well as the Irish Writers Centre and the Dublin Writers Museum.

The new City Library — a long-time ambition of city leaders — would be built on the site of the former Colaiste Mhuire school on Parnell Square, with the Georgian houses at the front forming an entrance to a larger building at the back.

Public rooms for cultural uses including music, media, craft and design would also be incorporated, under the blueprint.

The buildings are currently being transferred from the Office of Public Works to Dublin City Council.

Council officials are to invite the public to take part in a consultationprocess about the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter.

Ali Grehan, Dublin City architect, said the redeveloped space will be at theheart of the cultural life of the capital.

“The Civic Spine is a route which includes the Grafton Street and Henry Street prime retail areas, important third-level institutions and major cultural and tourism destinations,” she said.

“The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter will be a landmark destination which will complete the Spine at its northern end, and will be the connector for extending this route north into the new Dublin Institute of Technology campus at Grangegorman.”

She added: “It will appeal to people of all ages with a particular emphasis on creative opportunities for young people. The development will be a fusion of contemporary and historic architecture unique to Dublin.”


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