Six-storey extension proposed for Crawford Art Gallery

The plans include moving the Gallery's main entrance back to Emmet Place with a landscaped plaza; an internal top-lit courtyard and circulation spaces; new galleries; and enlarged education spaces
Six-storey extension proposed for Crawford Art Gallery

An Artist's impression of the Crawford Art Gallery extension from Emmet Place. Picture: Grafton Architects

CORK city centre’s much-loved Crawford Art Gallery is reaching up and into the future: a six-storey extension is proposed for a building with 300 years’ urban cultural presence, in what is being billed as a 21st century flagship project.

Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin has described the project as transformative and “a once-in a generation investment,” which will see the Crawford Art Gallery gain 45% more space. In July she and Taoiseach Micheál Martin announced a €29m investment in the gallery.

An application for planning permission to include a 32-metre tall red brick structure on Half Moon Street with top floor gallery, is being lodged today by one of Europe’s top architectural practices, Grafton Architects, winners of the Pritzker Prize, the RIBA Stirling prize and the Mies van der Rohe award, as well as all of Ireland’s top design honours.

The plans include moving the Crawford's main entrance back to Emmet Place with a landscaped plaza; an internal top-lit courtyard and circulation spaces; new restaurant on Half Moon Street; new galleries; enlarged education spaces, plus enhanced, secure on-site storage.

Most striking is the slender six-storey addition behind the oldest structures, by Cork Opera House. Here, a top floor gallery glazed on three sides in a brick and limestone-trimmed extension will be taller than the theatre’s scene dock: it’s likely to be the tallest structure to date in Cork’s historic city/island core if approved by city planners.

An artistic impression of the extensions interior. 	Picture: Grafton Architects
An artistic impression of the extensions interior. Picture: Grafton Architects

The application today come after four years of planning, consultation and design at the OPW-owned building, dating to the 1720s.

Arts and Culture Minister Catherine Martin said the project “represents a once-in a generation investment for this important national cultural institution, as part of the National Development Plan. 

It will be transformative for the Crawford, creating new public spaces, protecting the national collections and delivering the highest standards of sustainability, while also being central to the development of a new, vibrant urban plaza at Emmet Square.”

Originally Cork’s Custom House in the early 18th century, it was added to in the 1880s and in 2000. It’s currently visited by 265,000 persons each year, and will close for two years when construction begins with activities outsourced locally and many of the gallery’s collections going on tour and loan.

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