Bob Hannan — architect and urbanist made a huge contribution to improvement of Dún Laoghaire

An Appreciation

Bob Hannan, senior architect with Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, who died on October 21st at the age of 55, made an outstanding contribution to the progressive improvement of central Dún Laoghaire and to the quality of its housing stock.

The son of Moyna and Prof John Hannan, Bob grew up in Dalkey, attending Harold Boys School and later St. Michael’s College, Ballsbridge. Unusually, he commenced his studies in the Dublin Institute of Technology’s school of architecture and completed them in the UCD’s school of architecture, graduating in 1991.

Having studied urban design in the French city of Rouen on an Erasmus programme and making lasting friendships all around Europe, Bob returned to Ireland to work for HKR Architects for several years before joining Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council in November 2000 as an executive architect, working with a small team set up to pursue urban design and civic building projects.

From 2010 onwards, members of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council adopted a vision for the improvement of the moribund centre of Dún Laoghaire based on linking a more pedestrian-friendly shopping area to an attractive seafront promenade. In three successive publicly-ratified urban framework plans, Bob’s input as an urbanist illustrated how this was to be incrementally achieved and, most importantly, what it would look like.

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Step-by-step, this ambitious programme was delivered to increasing public interest and approval and was recognised by the Academy of Urbanism in 2022 when it deemed the regeneration of central Dún Laoghaire to be an outstanding example of civic design in Europe by awarding it the Great Town designation.

To walk today from the newly opened Myrtle Square through a traffic-calmed George’s Street and along The Metals with its outdoor cafes and restaurants, past the imposing Lexicon library and its Pavilion Green to the dining and skateboarding plaza beside People’s Park and across to the popular new Baths cafe, thronged with strollers and sea swimmers, and to sit looking out at the dramatic statue of Roger Casement, is to appreciate the influence of Bob’s guiding hand.

Bob’s other contributions include the well-mannered social housing in George’s Place and the delightful Greek-style changing pavilion at Sandycove beach, both of which won awards. He also made sensitive interventions in his beloved home town of Dalkey with the upgrade of its heritage centre, the public realm outside its Dart station and Writers Corner, all of which increased useable public space in the town. The village improvements in Monkstown are another especially good example of Bob’s work as is the Coastal Mobility Route for cyclists, developed as a response to Covid; he was also an avid cyclist.

Beloved father of Demetrios, cherished son of Moyna and the late Prof John and brother of Oisine and Moyna and the late Mark and John, Bob will be sorely missed by his mother, sisters, his loving partner Martha, nieces, nephews and by his wide and eclectic circle of friends.

Fergal MacCabe