Cork business leader issues a warning on a ‘city of glass boxes’

Cork business leader issues a warning on a ‘city of glass boxes’

Cranes on the skyline over Cork city. As the city will double in size over the next 20 years, Philip Gillivan of the Cork Business Association says we should do what we can to retain a city of character. Picture: Denis Minihane

THE President of the Cork Business Association has warned that Cork is in danger of developing into a ‘city of glass boxes’.

Philip Gillivan said Cork is at a crossroads, entering into a period of unprecedented growth, with skyscrapers and large office and residential developments in the pipeline all over the city and county.

Many of the developments being proposed are modern glass-fronted office buildings, similar to the landmark One Albert Quay project.

Planning permission has recently been granted for the 15-storey Prism building, on a triangular plot of land on Clontarf Street next to the city bus station.

Approval has also been given for a 25-storey residential tower in Mahon and came hot on the heels of planning approvals for major new at Horgan’s Quay and Penrose Dock.

These developments are all set to contribute to a rapidly changing city skyline in the coming years and are expected to be glass fronted, modern style buildings.

However, Mr Gillivan has warned that the city was in danger of losing its identity if development does not have an authentic Cork character. He said: “Our city will double in size over the next 20 years and how we manage this growth will define what sort of city Cork will be for at least a century.

From my perspective, I want a city that is attractive, but also a city that works.

“I would like to see a diversity of style and architecture and buildings that will stand the test of time; most importantly for me, however, I want the city to be Cork — and by that I mean that I want Cork to maintain its uniqueness and not to morph into another conurbation of glass boxes.

“Over the next 20 years, a new City will emerge in the Quays, Docklands and Tivoli.

“We have a once in a century opportunity in how we allow this development to evolve.

In Tivoli we have 2kms of river frontage within two miles of the city centre – this is potentially the most exciting site in Europe and presents us with an opportunity that we must not squander.

“The city docks also offer wonderful opportunities and we simply must find the political will to enable this development to happen. In terms of how we develop our waterfront, we must have vision and imagination to ensure we achieve the best possible outcome with sympathetic and effective design that will, in all instances, retain the historic character of the city.

“We are not the first to develop our Docklands so we can learn from the experiences of others – whatever we decide to do, it’s essential that Cork must continue to feel and look like Cork.”

Mr Gillivan, who was speaking at the Cork Better Building Awards, adding:

“Cities are the intersection of people and place and in the past twenty years we have seen major improvement in our public realm.

“Change is essential to maintain the vibrancy and energy of our City – but the caveat is how we manage that change.”

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