Plan to demolish ‘significant’ 1970s Ballsbridge office block rejected
An Bord Pleanála concludes existing building was of 'particular architectural, technical and vernacular significance'
83 Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge. The distinctive three-storey modernist block will not be demolished. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times
An Bord Pleanála has refused permission for the demolition of an early 1970s office block in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin after concluding that the existing building was of “particular architectural, technical and vernacular significance”.
West Register (Republic of Ireland) Property Ltd had sought permission to demolish the former Texaco Ireland headquarters on Pembroke Road – currently an Audi car showroom – and replace it with a five-storey office block by Shay Cleary Architects.
However, Dublin City Council’s decision to approve the scheme was appealed by An Taisce and the Pembroke Road Association, supported by Docomomo Ireland, which is dedicated to documenting and conserving buildings associated with the Modern Movement.
In a unanimous decision, An Bord Pleanála rejected the plans, saying the proposed demolition would be inappropriate and contrary to policies in the Dublin City Development Plan 2011-2017 to protect and reuse “exceptional buildings of the late 20th century”.
Texaco House, designed by David Keane and Partners, is an unusual three-storey building with a “honeycomb” concrete structural frame made up of roughly square elements, with glazing panels recessed within the external frame.
West Register’s historic buildings consultant, conservation architect David Slattery, had compared it unfavourably with the US embassy at the corner of Pembroke Road and Elgin Road, and argued that the Texaco building was not even of local importance.
In his report to the appeals board, a Bord Pleanála planning inspector said he agreed with Docomomo that comparisons with the US embassy – a milestone in its day – were “unfair” and falling short of the standard it set in the mid-1960s “does not render the [Texaco] building worthless”.
Referring to a point by the applicant that it was not a protected structure, he said none of the buildings in Ballsbridge from this period were protected – not even the US embassy “much lauded by the applicant’s historic building consultant”.