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Dublini? 1/2 s Docklandsi? 1/2
a Spectacle in Red, Green and Blue

by Stephen Kelly, regional editor






The idea to incorporate a i? 1/2 red carpeti? 1/2 theme leading to the theatre from the water became the cracked glass concept, realized by i? 1/2 crystal pave,i? 1/2 a resin-glass mixture bonded to concrete pavers and covered with red glowing angled light sticks. The Irish landscape architect firm, Teros, worked with Crystal Products to assure the quality of the process and ease of installation. The green band going toward the hotel will be a green crystal pave, same concept as the red carpet but a different hue. Martha Schwartz Inc. and Edinburgh based Spiers and Major Associates are collaborating on the lighting. The edifices on the square will include the Grand Canal Theatre (center), Le Meridien hotel (right) and a parking structure (left).


Dublin is a lively and compact city located near the midpoint of Irelandi? 1/2 s east coast at the mouth of the River Liffey, an impressive inner city waterway. Dublini? 1/2 s dubious debut was as a Viking center for the slave trade. The city has been Irelandi? 1/2 s capital city since medieval times and its Docklands, a soccer kick distance away from the city center, is a fast changing waterfront area of redevelopment. Within walking distance of the Docklands is a hub of activityi? 1/2 museums, galleries, theatres, shopping, restaurants and, of course, pubs. Redevelopment of the Docklands is expected to last at least another decade. Part of that project is Grand Canal Square. The master plan for this major new public space has been called a i? 1/2 stunning designi? 1/2 by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).






A closer look at the red resin-glass paving.


Well, of course, the DDDA might be a wee partial, given it is the body responsible for the redevelopment, so I wanted to take a look at the design images myself for the 10,000 sq. meter square at the west end of Grand Canal Dock facing the water.

Leti? 1/2 s see, 10,000 sq. meters would obviously be a square with 100 meter sides (328 feet or about the length of a football field if you include the end zones), what the Brits call one hectare and what we, if we were real estate agents listing a property, would call two and one-half acres (2.47 actually).

At any rate, it is said to be one of the largest paved public spaces in the city.






For conservation and practicality, it was decided to remove and reuse the light-grey granite hardscape of the existing square, which was of relatively recent construction, and to highlight it with black bands of granite pavers 3.94 x 11.81 inches. To bring green to the dock there are a series of planters of integrally-colored precast concrete. The higher planters will have grasses, evoking the areai? 1/2 s marsh heritage. The lower planters will be mini-lawns, i? 1/2 picnic, lie-around-in-the-sun type areas,i? 1/2 said Gilles-Smith. This component addresses the clienti? 1/2 s desire for casual seating and impromptu outdoor gatherings. The triangular blue spaces are the enclosures (pavilions) for stairs and elevator to the square from the parking garage. The pavilions are of stainless steel mesh in criss-cross patterns. The pavilion interiors will be aglow in blue lighti? 1/2 blue fluorescent tubes on blue painted walls.

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The design images I viewed of the Grand Canal Dock were indeed spectacular! I wanted to know and see more. What first attracts the eye are the red elementsi? 1/2 described as a red i? 1/2 carpeti? 1/2 of bright red resin-glass paving covered with red glowing angled light sticks. Wow! Not exactly your typical Irish square. And then the green i? 1/2 carpeti? 1/2 of polygon-shaped planters, which provide ample sitting spaces, while making a connection to the new hotel and office development across the square. More on these colored i? 1/2 carpetsi? 1/2 later, but the first impression is that no Irish square will likely compete with Grand Canal Dock for color flair.

Whati? 1/2 s beautiful about the crystal pavers is their reflectivity and how they catch the light.i? 1/2 Shauna Gillies-Smith, Martha Schwartz, Inc., the principal in charge of design.

The more i? 1/2 mundanei? 1/2 design, at least compared to red glowing light sticks, is tasteful granite-paved paths criss-crossing the square, bringing freedom of movement across the space in all possible compass directions, while still allowing room for outdoor gatherings like festivals and performances.






The original square, sunken a few steps, will be raised to the level of the buildings to create a smooth plane from the riveri? 1/2 s edge of the square to the theatre. This will be achieved by constructing another slab over the old slab with space in between them. The red carpet is a i? 1/2 reali? 1/2 red, not a brick red, notes Gilles-Smith. Production has already started on the pavers. The white triangular shapes at right comprise the water feature.


To find more about this compelling design I spoke with the principal in chargei? 1/2 Shauna Gillies-Smith, of Martha Schwartz, Inc., a landscape architect firm with offices in Cambridge, Mass. and Cowcross St., London. (You have to love the rural throwback name for a street near the Farrington Tube Station.)

Gillies-Smith has a degree in architecture from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and a masters in urban design from Harvard. Out of school, she worked for several architectural design firms, then for herself in the public art realm, also doing some architectural teaching stints at Tulane, UBC and Harvard. She has been with Martha Schwartz Inc. off and on, for a bit over six years. She explains there were four or five firms vying for the final master planning of the Grand Canal Dock and believes the Martha Schwartz firm was selected, at least in part, for its use of color. Yes, puhleeese, some color. Dublin is a tad grey and its weather also, not to mention the somber tones of the squarei? 1/2 s construction materialsi? 1/2 grey granite and limestone. The client, DDDA, was indeed looking to bring some color to the square.






In lieu of a service road for the buildings on the square, the existing road will be reinforced as part of the square and treated as a path with small-scale pavers to allow traffic to go over it. It will be at the same grade as the rest of the plaza, but separated by bollards (every third lit) and tactile paving.

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Design Ideas

I wondered how the firm approached the design. i? 1/2 Much the same as we do with other projects,i? 1/2 explains Gillies-Smith. i? 1/2 We look at the story of the site and its history. We then have an open, free-flowing session of ideas, good or bad.i? 1/2 Iti? 1/2 s all about that i? 1/2 first blush of ideas,i? 1/2 she adds, which are then honed to four or five central ideas that can be discussed with the client.






There will be a series of stone block benches at the waterfront edge with i? 1/2 linear white LED bands leaking out of the cracks where they are split,i? 1/2 explains Gilles-Smith.

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Accompanying the Martha Schwartz firm to the interview with the DDDA was the landscape division of the Dublin-based multidisciplinary company, Tiros Resources. As Tiros is on site, it falls to them to monitor the day-to-day supervision.

The design starting point was examining pedestrian desire lines, that is, the way people would move across the square, usually meaning the fastest most direct paths. This evolved into what became the i? 1/2 cracked-glass schemei? 1/2 i? 1/2 more on that later.






The exterior light stick columns (219 mm at base and 90 mm at the illuminated section) are 8 meters high with mild steel galvanized cores. Some 50 of these light sticks will be scattered across the red carpet, some angled, some straight up. Red luminaires will go up top, possibly i? 1/2 interactive.i? 1/2 Osram LED task lights will be located at the base, with a driver located behind an acrylic tube diffuser. Automative Industries magazine reported in 2004 that about 75 percent of the cars in production today have some type of Osram Sylvania lighting technology.


The design needed to keep in mind the strong, formal architecture of the two grand edifices to be built that will face onto the squarei? 1/2 the new Grand Canal Theatre (the architect is Studio Daniel Libeskind) and Le Meridien 5-star hotel, along with assorted shops, cafi? 1/2 s and restaurants. As the theatre is a main element for the square the idea came to incorporate in some fashion the pomp of the theatrical red carpeti? 1/2 thus the red resin-glass paving emphasized with the red light sticks.






ABOVE & BELOW: The north and south triangular fountains, separated by a walkway, will be constructed of slabs of Styra marble. The marble will be held in place using backfilled concrete on an angled slab. The fountain contractor will finish the fountain using three levels of the same width stone on the South Fountain and four levels of different widths of stone for the north fountain.






While Dublin is grey, the countryside is magnificently green. To bring the green to the dock there are a series of planters of integrally-colored precast concrete. i? 1/2 We are using a strong textural form liner that is like an enlarged grass form to texture the surfaces,i? 1/2 she explains. The higher planters will have grasses, evoking the areai? 1/2 s marsh heritage. The lower planters will be mini-lawns, i? 1/2 picnic, lie around in the sun type areas,i? 1/2 she says. This component addresses the clienti? 1/2 s desire for casual seating and impromptu outdoor gatherings.

Green steel benches, will be extensions to the planters. The planters are at different angles, a result of the paths cutting through in various directions. Thus, the benches had to be custom made (by a German company) to fit to the ends of the planters.






Grey granite and limestone are the main hardscapes for the square, with a variety of treatments: From left, top: polished, lined, split face. From left, bottom: bush-hammered antique and Styra marble (for the water feature).


There is a parking garage under the square, which will be maintained. There are stairs and an elevator up to the square and the need for enclosures for the triangular stair buildings (i? 1/2 pavilionsi? 1/2 ). The pavilions are color-coded blue and clad in stainless steel mesh in a criss-cross pattern that follows that i? 1/2 sort of crazy desire line gone mad pick-up-sticks patterni? 1/2 (of the light sticks), says Gillies-Smith. The pavilion interiors will be aglow in blue lighti? 1/2 blue fluorescent tubes on the blue painted walls.

i? 1/2 We treated the pavilions as if the roofs were the fourth fai? 1/2 ade, so they have the same treatments (blue lighting) as the sides.i? 1/2 However, it was necessary to include ventilation in the pavilions through which the garage underneath could vent. This is accomplished by void spaces next to the canted blue walls and using steel mesh (made by GKD, a German company).

Among the challenges in the pavilions was the design of the benches. To help with venting, a perforated bench design was chosen, but the landscape architect attests that achieving the proper hole dimensions for optimal venting was not easy, right down to how much paint to apply so as not to narrow the holes and impede venting.






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ABOVE & BELOW: Green steel benches will be extensions to the planters. The planters are at different angles, a result of the paths cutting through in various directions. Thus, the benches had to be custom made (by a German company) to fit to the ends of the planters. Built into the sides of the seat walls are a series of apple green perforated steel powder-coated panels for more formal seating. There will also be a series of stone block benches at the waterfront edge with linear white LED bands leaking out of the cracks where they are split.









Pick-Up Sticks

The red light sticks will be a dominating feature for the square, standing eight meters tall (26.25 feet), painted red and with red luminaires at top. Some 50 of these light sticks will be scattered across the red carpet, some angled, some straight up. While construction is going take a few years and the light sticks will be the finishing touches, the designers also want to program in various lighting effects.

The colorful lighting, designed by the landscape architects in collaboration with Edinburgh-based Spiers and Major Associates, will add a theatrical experience to the space. Around the segments of the red carpet will be red LED light bands; around the base of all the planters will be green LED bands.

Built into the sides of the seat walls are a series of apple green perforated steel powder-coated panels for more formal seating. There will also be a series of stone block benches at the waterfront edge with linear white LED bands leaking out of the cracks where they are split.

Hardscape

The square started as a much smaller area. i? 1/2 It was kind of the hole of the donut that we extended up to the edges of the buildings,i? 1/2 says Gillies-Smith, per the desire of DDDA. In lieu of a service road, a requirement for the buildings, the plan calls for reinforcing the existing road as part of the square and treating it as a path (a little bit fatter that the other paths running through the square) and using a smaller-scale paver to allow traffic to go over it. It will be at the same grade as the rest of the plaza, but separated by your basic bollards (every third lit) and tactile paving. i? 1/2 That way we can take the plaza right up to the face of the hotel, where there will be a lot of cafi? 1/2 outdoor seating and activity, extending the i? 1/2 lifei? 1/2 of the hotel into the square.i? 1/2

The existing square is of relatively recent construction and was sunken a few steps. The square will be raised to the level of the buildings so that there is a smooth plane from the water edge of the square to the theatre. This is being achieved by constructing another slab over the old slab, although there will be space between the slabs.

Not to waste the existing paving, it was decided to remove and reuse the light-grey granite hardscape, highlighted by black bands of granite pavers (100 mm x 300 mm, thati? 1/2 s 3.94i? 1/2 x 11.81i? 1/2 ). The red carpet, dubbed i? 1/2 crystal pave,i? 1/2 is a resin and glass mixture bonded to concrete pavers. The green band that goes toward the hotel incorporates a green crystal pavei? 1/2 same concept, different hue.

The Teros firm worked hard with Crystal Products to assure the quality of the process and ease of installation.

Production has already started on the crystal pavers and Gillies-Smith attests the samples look gorgeous. i? 1/2 Whati? 1/2 s beautiful about them is their reflectivity and how they catch the light. And it is a real red, not a brick red.i? 1/2

Though the first phase of construction does not include a dock extension over the water, the landscape architects are hoping and planning for the extension and a continuation of the red carpet. If it comes to pass, it will also have red underlighting to glow on the water.

There will be a water feature, two triangular areas of stacked marble called Styro marble, a creamy white color with green veins. One half of the water feature bubbles slowly, and another area where water gushes forth through the broken strata as from a spring. The pavilions and water feature are a design-build contract, explains Gillies-Smith. i? 1/2 We provide a series of design intent drawings and they take it forward with the construction and shop drawings.i? 1/2

i? 1/2 We are delighted that this project will make the public space the focus of the development rather than the individual buildings and that the composition will be greater than the sum of the parts,i? 1/2 said John McLaughlin, director of architecture with the Docklands Authority. i? 1/2 This i? 1/2 8 million project is one of the most innovative landscape design projects ever undertaken in this country.i? 1/2

It is envisaged that construction of the new Grand Canal Square will be completed in phases in line with the completion of the surrounding buildings. The last phase will coincide with the delivery of the Studio Daniel Libeskind designed Theatre in 2008.

i? 1/2 This truly dramatic design by Martha Schwartz Partners will create an interactive public space that will be an urban magnet both day and nighti? 1/2 said Paul Maloney, CEO of the Docklands Authority.


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September 19, 2019, 5:11 pm PDT

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