ESB keeps redevelopment designs secret

State-owned ESB today insisted it cannot reveal shortlisted designs for the redevelopment of its controversially-sited headquarters.

State-owned ESB today insisted it cannot reveal shortlisted designs for the redevelopment of its controversially-sited headquarters.

Scores of entries in a competition to redesign the head office at Fitzwilliam Street in the heart of Georgian Dublin have been whittled down to just three plans.

But the publicly-owned power company said it cannot disclose the potential winning designs because of a confidentiality clause under EU procurement law.

The development of the existing headquarters in 1970 sparked protests by conservationists over the demolition of 16 Georgian houses.

But planning permission was granted and the row was pulled down on what was Dublin’s “Georgian Mile” – from Mount Street to Leeson Street – to be replaced by Arthur Gibney and Sam Stephenson’s modern precast concrete facade.

ESB later opened a Georgian house at Number 29, in which visitors can see what a house from the era might have looked like.

The company said an “expert jury” of six people – three ESB chiefs and three architects – have now shortlisted three designs from 44 plans for the latest redevelopment to a “world class headquarters and offices”.

The Irish-led designs entered into the final stage of the competition are: Grafton, OMP, DEGW and BDSP; Henry J Lyons and Gilroy McMahon; and Scott Tallon Walker.

An ESB spokeswoman accepted the site was historically sensitive and that there was a public interest in the redevelopment, but insisted the company cannot release details of the designs.

“The process is confidential and ESB is obliged under EU procurement law not to reveal details of the designs which are confidential to each participant,” she said.

Eight designs originally shortlisted in the contest were each awarded €30,000, while the top three entries get an additional €30,000 each.

A final decision on the winning design will be made by the board of the ESB in the summer.

Afterwards, information on the designs will be made generally available, according to the ESB spokeswoman.

Plans to replace the front of the office block with a Georgian facade as a Millennium project a decade ago were scuppered because of problems due to floor levels.

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