Docklands body denies U2 Tower design 'binned'

 

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) has denied that designs for the proposed U2 Tower, intended as an architectural landmark for the city, have been "binned", as claimed by the Architects Journalthis week.

In a statement to The Irish Times, the authority said it was a condition of the tender for developers bidding to develop the site at Britain Quay that their schemes would include "the current U2 Tower design" by Burdon Dunne Craig Henry architects.

The Blackrock-based design consortium emerged as the winners of an architectural competition in 2003 that became mired in controversy after the documentation identifying the original winning entry chosen by the adjudicators could not be found.

Since then, the DDDA included an adjoining site in a tender to select development partners to build the twisting tower, which would rise to an overall height of 130 metres - 10 metres taller than the Spire - as well as a nine-storey block next door.

The authority said the shortlisted developers included consortiums with a "world class record in tower building", including Ballymore Properties, Mountbrook Homes, Royal BAM Group, Treasury Holdings-Sisk and the Riverside 2 Partnership.

"We are delighted with the calibre of the teams engaged and to see the involvement of eminent architects including Foster and Partners, Rafael Vinoly and other internationally-recognised architects", said DDDA chief executive Paul Maloney.

Describing the project as one of the most significant in the regeneration of the docklands, he added: "We are confident that the consortia selected will deliver an enduring architectural landmark which will be acknowledged in Ireland and around the world."

The top two storeys of the 30- storey tower are to house recording studios and apartments for rock band U2, whose studios on Hanover Quay are to be demolished to extend a public amenity area surrounding the outer basin of the Grand Canal Docks.

As the Architects Journal noted, the involvement of U2 "has formed a significant part of the branding and marketing of the project, and the competition-winning designs have played a major role in the marketing of regeneration in the neglected docklands area of Dublin".

"However, observers now fully expect these designs to be dropped. A source close to one of the offices lining up to develop the site said: "There's no way [ the offices] expect to have to work on the original design - if they did they wouldn't enter."

DDDA sources suggested that the Architects Journal was misinformed and had not taken into account that a substantial adjoining site had now been included in the tender, with a condition that the U2 Tower be delivered as planned.