Where Is This? [UPDATE]




Lines MUST close  at 3.30pm 4.35pm

Thanks Louis Le Fronde





Louis writes:

“It is The corner of Kildare Place and Kildare Street. The Guardian Assurance Co Building was originally constructed as a training school for the Church of Ireland. In the 1970s it was demolished and replaced by the Sam Stephenson designed Agriculture House. Despite being in very good condition at the time of demolition, the Georgian houses next door were also demolished….”

Photos via archiseek.com and Google Maps.

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62 thoughts on “Where Is This? [UPDATE]

    1. Tannoy

      I don’t hate often… but I really hate Sam Stephenson. More singularly responsible for the destruction of old Dublin than anyone else.

      Not to mention his awful appearance on Q&A about ten years ago when he couldn’t even remember what LiveAid was about.
      Oh and did I mention he was the ultimate FF crony?

      1. Selfie Sensation

        FUUUUUPPPP is right, those railings on the street had me thinking it was the Shelbourne for a while, i was so close!

    1. SB

      Those buildings are very different, and the first word in the Assurance Company’s name end with an “n” in the left of the photo above. Who added the de-spoiler to that word on the right of the picture?

  1. Rep

    I am glad they demolished it. The building that is there now is far superior. Assuming that it is 5 College Green, it is like a mini-Hawkins House. Every road should have some form of Hawkins House on it.

  2. ScaryLady

    Sam Stephenson made some bags of the city of Dublin in the 70’s. Big pal of Charlie Haughey. Demolished lovely historic buildings and put up eyesores instead – see ESB Office Mount Street, Central Bank, Civic Offices Wood Quay.

    Stashed his cash in the Cayman Islands according to Frank McDonald’s “The Builders” –

    1. Selfie Sensation

      I was looking through Archiseek there, its a miracle that there was anything left of Dublin after the 70s.

    2. Moan

      Those buildings were “un-national”.
      Kevin Boland hated them and everything they stood for.

      Be thankful Merrion Square is still there at all.

      There was a serious bit of “Year Zero” thinking going on in the upper ranks of Fianna Fáil back then.
      I’m sure that’s one reason Todd Andrews hated the railways so much.

  3. Jess

    sam stephenson the man who gave us Central bank, wood qua, the ESB headquarters on fitzwilliam place.

    Jaysus that man did more damage to dublin than the Helga

  4. JunkFace

    Sam Stephenson built sh1t boxes all over Dublin city. I think the aim was give the place a certain hopelessness, oppressive communist grayness, without the effort. Government, architects and planners demolished loads of beautiful old buildings in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s and defaced the city’s identity for generations.

    Slow hand clap

  5. Reegore

    There should really be more made of these squares around Dublin. There’s a (potentially) great one on the canal at portobello that’s crying out for attention. Surrounded by derelict warehouses and vacant flats :(

  6. Spaghetti Hoop

    Well I’ll be damned.
    Ignorant shysters destroyed some of the finest buildings in Western Europe. Grrrr…

      1. Zynks

        There is a second, smaller, building on both photos. Unless its front and back look exactly the same… I am not convinced.

    1. Louis Lefronde

      The rest of Europe has the excuse of war, Dublin was destroyed by a combination of ignorance, incompetence, greed and corruption.

      But there is a solution to some of the eyesores, some of the worst culprits can be removed. We can learn a lot from Dresden, Warsaw, Berlin, Potsdam and Zadar (to mention but a few cities that have reconstructed some of the most prized lost buildings. They have realised the value, economic, cultural and civic in restoring their historic cores, streets capes, and monuments.

      Here’s a little film that showcases Dresden which as most people know was largely destroyed in a sequence of air-raids that commenced on the 13th February 1945. The reconstruction of the Frauenkirche is testament to what is possible and it is incredible. Nearly every building in this film was either destroyed or seriously damaged. But the Germans rebuilt them.


      The reconstruction is proving an enormous draw for tourists, who of course spend money!

      1. JunkFace

        Yes but remember this is Ireland. Modern Irish builders, architects and town planners have an appalling record, for cutting costs, cheap materials etc….

        I would trust the Germans to rebuild our lost gems. Not the Irish

        1. Louis Lefronde

          Sadly I must agree, there is a noted absence of civic pride (e̶d̶u̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶,̶ ̶s̶o̶p̶h̶i̶s̶t̶i̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶) among the Irish building and developing caste. One of course has to distinguish between a developers concept of architecture (which in Ireland usually corresponds with cheap, ugly and ill-constructed) and an architect’s vision

          Stephenson was a product of his time, a hired gun commissioned to ‘design’ buildings which have proven to be ugly and unsympathetic to their location. The vast majority of which are eyesores. That he was third rate is not in doubt, but the finger has to be pointed at those who commissioned and green-lit those projects in the first place.

          A critical eye must be cast at the usual suspects: Government departments, the city council and lest anyone forget the financial institutions who sealed the fate of many buildings in the historic core (between the canals) and either financed the ‘redevelopment’ or led the way in demolishing buildings (BOI on Baggott Street) to make way for many of the brutalist blocks that blight the city.

          Some streets have been utterly ruined, such as Lower Mount Street, portions of Stephen’s Green, Molesworth Street etc.

        2. cluster

          Re-building ‘lost’ buildings is a terrible idea and amounts to lazy pastiche.

          The city can’t be preserved in aspic forever more. A balance has to be struck between conservation and allowing each generation make its mark on the city. Many of the buildings from the 1970s and 1980s (but not the ESB Hq I’ll wager) are currently unfashionable but will be appreciated in decades and (hopefully) centuries to come. This tension between preserving the best of existing cities while allowing them grow and adapt is an almost universal concern and resorting to standard self-hating Irish explanations adds little to the discussion.

          It also lazy and inaccurate to say that the rest of Europe has the excuse of the war. This same process occurred all over Europe to different degrees in the 60s, 70s and 80s, long after the war. See London and Brussels for some egregious examples.

          1. Louis Lefronde

            Lazy pastiche, my eye. I have heard that word thrown around the Irish ‘architects’ so many times without justification.

            If you think it is lazy, go and view the Frauenkirche – I can assure you it is anything but.

            As for your observation about each generation making its mark, well the generation between the 1960-80s made many marks and they are ugly in the extreme and they destroyed much of the historic core of the city. Most of them like Hawkins house will not in anyway, be fashionable in a few years time, and neither will the Department of Agriculture which is substandard.

            By the way I am as much a fan of great contemporary architecture as I am of the historic. However when you suggest making a mark on the city, I suspect you mean the historic core (altstadt) between the canals, which needs preservation and appropriate rebuilding

            Needless to say, somewhere like Poolbeg (if it wasn’t wasted) would make a fitting extension of the neuestadt (docklands) where you could locate world class contemporary structures

          2. cluster

            Louis, ‘my eye’ is not a refutation and little is achieved by putting the word architects in inverted commas as if they were not, in fact, architects.

            Trying to rebuild ‘lost’ buildings, which were constructed in a particular time with techniques, crafts and materials appropriate to that time clearly is pastiche and many German towns have done a reasonably good job of papering over history in that manner – an ugly, dishonest mistake imo.

            The truth is that you, like the rest of us, have little real idea what portions of the architecture from that period will stand the test if time. Personally, I agree that Hawkins House is very unlikely to do so, although I am a fan of Agriculture House.

            Most Victorian architecture was seen as ersatz and ugly in both Britain and Ireland until quite late in the twentieth century. Even the Victorian Society was willing to have demolished buildings that nobody could countenance touching today. The Dutch Billys were sadly fully replaced by the Georgian style we still associate with Dublin today.

            Your apparent desire to wipe away this period and replace it with more ‘acceptable’ styles is the same kind if attitude which led to the ESB’s disgraceful piercing of the Georgian Mile.

            There are plenty of historic structures which would be a better use of precious funding than a madcap notion of removing modernist buildings in order to replace them with relatively common Victorian designs.

          3. will-billy

            fair play cluster. i do not completely agree with your commentary as I do agree with Louis that many 60s and 70s era buildings were of poor design and construction but i fully applaud your placing the prevailing style of that era in context of architectural and social history

  7. Denis O'Buyin'

    Such a shame. I suppose it was back when we had serious irregularities bordering on systemic corruption in our planning application processes. Yep. Back when.

    1. cluster

      Perhaps we did but this is not an example of that. The popular demand was for planners to allow modern buildings and facilitate the car.

      The fact that these things were implemented does not constitute corruption, whatever we make of those aspirations today.

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