These photographs form part of a series taken by an amateur photographer ca. 1975. They had been put together into a scrapbook with the title ‘The River Liffey – From Leixlip to Bull Wall’ and follow the path of the river from County Kildare to the city. As they were taken from the river they give a different perspective on some well-known views. What I like about them is that they show Dublin during a time of transition and these images, in particular, depict two major developments which were to change the landscape of the city: the Civic Offices at Wood Quay and the Central Bank Headquarters at Dame Street.
The image above shows the site which was cleared for the construction of the Sam Stephenson designed Civic Offices at Wood Quay. The site was purchased by Dublin Corporation, however, excavations revealed that it was a major Viking settlement. See here for a photograph of the novel O’Meara’s ‘Irish House’ pub and bustling street-scape which were razed to make way for this development. Further archaeological excavations were conducted at intervals between 1974 and 1981. Controversially, and despite much protest, the decision was made to go ahead with construction. As ever the Dublin blog, Come Here to Me has several excellent posts on both Wood Quay and Central Bank.
Further down the Liffey, we can see the partially constructed Central Bank Headquarters on Dame Street. This building, also by Sam Stephenson, took several years to complete. My guess is that these photographs were taken sometime between 1974 and 1976 during the hiatus in construction which followed on from complaints that the building exceeded its planned height. You can see from the photograph that the central core has been built, however, the floors have not yet been put in place.
Whilst I would question the appropriateness of the sites chosen for both buildings, I quite like the Brutalist style of architecture favoured by Stephenson. Indeed, some recent photographs by Artur Sikora demonstrate how beautiful the Central Bank is. The whole period is very interesting in that much of the cityscape changed during this time and not always for the best. Frank McDonald’s The Destruction of Dublin outlines much of this change and the poor planning decisions made by both national and local politicians. The Central Bank is due to relocate to Anglo Irish Bank’s unfinished headquarters at North Wall Quay by 2015, leaving this iconic building vacant just thirty-five years’ after its construction!