Designers with ‘Backbone’ sought to complete Dublin City’s ‘Civic Spine’

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The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter (PSCQ) will be a landmark destination which will complete the Civic Spine of Dublin at its northern end.  Following on from the public launch of this major project, Dublin City Council is now seeking an outstanding Design Team to deliver that landmark. The Civic Spine route includes the Grafton Street and Henry Street prime retail areas, important third level institutions and major cultural and tourism destinations.

A public procurement process, to select an architect-led multi-disciplinary design team, to provide all the architectural, conservation design and contract management services required to deliver this vision, is about to get underway.

The centre-piece of the Quarter is a development of over 11,000m2, anchored by a new City library which will broker a mix of cultural facilities for Dublin at the former Coláiste Mhuire site and some adjacent properties. The development will be a mix of new buildings and renovated historic buildings, integrated with the existing Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane. The complex of historic buildings is of high architectural significance and will require appropriate care in its design treatment. The north side of Parnell Square will be re-landscaped to provide a high quality external public events space.

Seed capital for the project is being provided by international real estate investment and services company, Kennedy Wilson, on a philanthropic basis. The company, which has its main European office in Dublin, will also lead further required fund raising and provide expertise to assist in management of the development.

“The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter landmark development will draw people from across the city, inspiring economic and physical renewal along the Civic Spine. It will be the most important cultural development in Dublin for 100 years. Dublin City Council is seeking an architect led multi disciplinary design team who can match the ambition of the project, delivering exemplar architectural, conservation and environmental innovation. The development is a rare opportunity to introduce significant contemporary architecture within an historic Georgian terrace, creating a place unique to Dublin”, said Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect.

“The objective is one of achieving a quality cultural offer coupled with an equality of access and provision.  The City library will provide a platform for learning and cultural exchange on many levels, ranging from the City’s international standing as a UNESCO City of Literature to working for the cities communities. The city is ambitious for a centre of excellence complex, a service envelope that will inspire and excite, welcome and include and provide places for people to learn, create and participate.  Dublin  is a City that thrives on stories and now Dublin is writing a new story” said Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian.

The vision for the cultural quarter is set out in the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter Vision Document April 2013 and is available to view at

The tender notice and submission requirements are available on

The deadline for submission of Expressions of Interest is Friday, 5th July, 2013 at 12 noon.

The public can get further information at either or or, by telephone + 1 222 3389 (Ms Diane Dixon, Culture Recreation and Amenity Department).


For further information contact:

Dublin City Council Media Relations Office T. (01) 222 2170.

Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect, Dublin City Council T (01) 2223322

Margaret Hayes, City Librarian, Dublin City Council T (01) 6744805

Notes to the Editor:

The PSCQ will be a landmark destination which will complete the City’s Civic Spine at its northern end and will be the connecter for extending this route north into the new Dublin Institute of Technology Campus at Grangegorman.

The new City library at PSCQ will see the provision of public rooms for a variety of cultural uses – which will focus on key library service themes, Life-Long Learning, Literature, Information and Music. Other cultural uses may include media, craft and design. 20-21 Parnell Square will also form part of the cultural complex. A pedestrian plaza at the north end of Parnell Square will create new public events space in front of the cultural buildings.

Arrangements are being made for the transfer of the former Coláiste Mhuire from the Office of Public Works to Dublin City Council. Dublin City Council is the owner of Dublin City Gallery – The Hugh Lane, situated between the Colaiste Mhuire buildings and Numbers 20-21 Parnell Square. It is intended that the Hugh Lane gallery will form part of the overall Parnell Square Cultural offering and its role and impact expanded by the development of this new City Library/Cultural Centre. The public is being encouraged to participate in the consultation process around the PSCQ. A series of public meetings and workshops are being planned to help develop a shared understanding of the expectations and needs of all stakeholders; from individuals, community groups, and public representatives to creative workers, cultural organisations, educational institutions and businesses. These meetings will take place in tandem with the commissioning of the design and will inform the final design brief.