Leinster House 2000 Extension

  • Location: Georgian / Governmental Quarter
  • Architect: Donnelly & Turpin / Paul Arnold / OPW Architectural Services
  • Completed: 2000

Leinster House 2000 created a major new office wing for the houses of Ireland’s Parliament at Kildare Street. It extended the northern end of Leinster House by connecting to it below ground, at basement level.  The original building was designed by Richard Castle in 1745 and built shortly afterwards as a grand town house for the Duke of Leinster. In 1922, it was purchased by the first Irish Free State Government to serve as a parliament house. This complex of buildings of national importance was originally designed by Sir Thomas Deane in the late nineteenth century as part of the larger scheme which placed the National Gallery, the Natural History Museum, the National Library and the National Museum as wings on the four corners of Leinster House.

The conservation project is a skillful blend of restoration with the addition of substantial new facilities in a highly sensitive historic environment. As the new building connects to Leinster House at basement level only, the use of the main spine corridor at that level as the link between different parts of the complex reinforced the importance of the Leinster House main stairs. These have been widened and care was taken to minimise the loss of the historic fabric and to preserve the architectural integrity of the whole.

The façade construction has included vertical elements of stone - grey Kilkenny Limestone and white Portland stone - evocative of the columns on the screen wall and fenestration patterns generally on the adjoining buildings. This mitigates the presence of the new work while still using a contemporary idiom. The upper levels of the new building which are visible from Leinster Lawn and Merrion Square have been given a gentle curve, echoing that of the 19th Century curved screen wall below.
The internal elevation of the 1823 façade forms one edge to the new atrium, in which the new opposes the old to create a space of considerable drama. The atrium announces the new building and its landscaped courtyard, inserted between the two nearly parallel blocks,  which house the offices. The basement area under the garden is a well-laid out complex of committee rooms, providing sophisticated facilities for members.

The project set out to create a high quality modern building of 8,000 m2, which harmonised entirely with its surroundings. A new classical style screen wall forms the public entrance and the 1823 façade within the new public atrium was restored. The new internal stairway was created in the style of the 18th century in order to form a graceful internal link and the vaulted basement corridor of the same style was restored.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Wednesday, September 17, 2008
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