Sometimes breath-taking beauty and fantastic design can be born from a virtually blank landscape, and the Grand Canal Square Theatre and Commercial Development proves just that. For years, the Grand Canal Harbour waterfront in Dublin, Ireland, was simply a deserted former industrial site. All that changed when the Dublin Docklands Authority set out to redevelop the abandoned area and create a multipurpose cultural civic center for Dublin. World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind and landscape architects from Martha Schwartz Partners collaborated on the project to create an architectural masterpiece that merges aesthetic appeal, functionality, and sustainability.
The Grand Canal Square Theatre and Commercial Development features a total of 375,000 sq. ft. (34,839 m2) of luxury commercial property that stretches across two-and-a-half acres. Completed in April 2010, it has already become a major hub in Dublin, supporting various commercial buildings that provide a shopping, work, living, and entertainment experience. The Grand Canal Square Theatre features a five-star hotel, a one-of-a-kind performing arts center, two ultra-chic eight-floor office buildings, a residential block, a public piazza, and spectacular waterfront views. The square also features landscaped rooftops and glazed courtyards to add to the appeal of the architectural masterpiece.
The diamond-shaped Grand Canal Square Theatre, designed by Studio Daniel Libeskind, is situated at the center of the square, making the architectural structure the focal point of the Grand Canal Square. The 2,000-seat Grand Canal Square Theatre is 117,000 sq. ft. (10,869 m2). Studio Daniel Libeskind also designed two office buildings, which are adjacent to the theatre. The theatre’s contemporary dramatic lines lend themselves to act as a backdrop or stage for the square to be used during street performances or just to be marveled at throughout the day and night.
The grand theatre is surrounded by the landscape designs of Martha Schwartz Partners. All who enter the square are able to walk the “red carpet,” constructed from stunning red resin-glass paving, which is illuminated by red glowing lights that stretch toward the sky at an array of angles. The red carpet leads visitors to the harbor’s edge, as they travel through green vegetation and pastures created by polygon-shaped planters that also double as seating. The planters, which are full of marsh vegetation, run the length of the development, connecting the hotel to the office buildings on the opposite end of the square.
The entire project cost $269.9 million, with $101.8 million being used solely for the construction of the theatre. The extensive project, which took six years to complete, began in 2004. The buildings within the Grand Canal Square may be beautiful, but aesthetic appeal was not the only thing designers had in mind for the extensive project. The two office buildings in the square emphasize sustainability and include large windows to reduce dependency on artificial lighting, in addition to other eco-friendly features. Designers also had to take strict weight requirements into account, because the square sits on a preexisting one-story parking garage. Necessary ventilation systems are also hidden in benches and planters throughout the square.
J. Mariah Brown is a technical research writer and the owner of Writings by Design, a comprehensive business writing service company that specializes in business development, promotion, and client outreach. She has worked in a variety of technical and non-technical industries including, but not limited to, Government, Non-Profit, Engineering, Translation and Interpretation, Christian and Women’s Publications, and Fashion and Beauty. She is a graduate of the prestigious E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University and is currently pursuing a master's degree from Gonzaga University in Communication and Organizational Leadership.