During the late 1990s Cork City Council turned its attention once more to the city centre and decided to refurbish St. Patrick’s Street, using funds gained from the sale of lands used for the development of the Mahon Point Shopping Centre. The design chosen for St. Patrick’s Street (3) was that of Catalan architect Beth Gali and her design emphasised the need to recover the public space of the city for citizens. The works were completed in 2004 with the entire street having been repaved in high quality materials, granite and limestone, and the pavements widened to create plaza areas. In addition, the confinement of traffic to four lanes, two of which are dedicated to public transport, has given the priority to pedestrian use on the street. Light standards were commissioned to an original design, reminiscent of shops masts reflecting the city's maritime culture. Commenting on the tall lamps Gali said that in their design she had “tried to bring the spirit of the harbour into the city” (Burke, 2007f)
Figure 1: St. Patrick’s Street
In 2001 Cork Corporation decided to focus its attention on the redevelopment of the Docklands and commissioned the preparation of the Cork Docklands Development Strategy (Urban Initiatives, 2001) to guide the development of the area. The redevelopment of the area was also supported by the Cork Area Strategic Plan (Atkins, 2001). Subsequently two Local Area Plans were prepared to guide the detailed planning framework for the area - the North Docks L.A.P. in 2005 (Cork City Council, 2005) and the South Docks L.A.P. in 2008 (Cork City Council and Brady Shipman Martin, 2008). The redevelopment of the ‘East City Centre Precinct’ which includes Lapp’s Quay was the first step in the regeneration process. Completed in 2006 it consists of the Scott Tallon Walker designed Clarion Hotel and City Quarter office development, and the Lapp’s Quay Boardwalk (30).
Figure 2: Lapp's Quay Boardwalk
The installation of a 13m high copper sculpture 'Reed Pod' by Cork artist Eilis O' Connell serves to root the identity the area as a part of Cork with its association with the flora of the river. According to the sculptress: “Before anything was built in Cork it was a marsh land. The idea is based on this” (Cork Examiner, 2006).
Figure 3: ‘Reed Pod’ Sculpture, Lapp’s Quay Boardwalk
The completion of the Elysian (31) building in 2008 marked the substantial development of the ‘South City Gateway’ Precinct also linking the docks area with the city. Designed by Wilson Associates, the eighteen storey residential tower is currently the tallest building in Ireland and is flanked by a seven storey perimeter residential block with provision for ground floor retail uses. Its completion at the beginning of the economic down-turn means that the complex currently stands largely empty – for now a marker physically and psychologically of the end of the Celtic Tiger era in the city.
Figure 4: The Elysian