The MDO-designed hotel and retail scheme on George’s Street sees the refurbishment and extension of the former W.H. Byrne Dockrells Department Store, breathing new life and energy into a derelict though cherished part of Dublin’s urban fabric. Under MDO’s proposal, the building’s ornate Victorian red-brick and stone façade, dating from 1888, underwent sensitive intervention, repair, and restoration process.
The site lies at an important corner in the heart of Dublin’s historic cultural scene, with the George’s Street façade situated within the South City Conversation Area adopted in March 2007. This difficult project involved significant challenges including archaeology, complex façade retention, with irregular site geometry combined with the many problematic issues of working on a city centre site to the exacting specification of a new hotel chain. Despite this prominent location, the subject site and buildings have laid vacant for many years, with disused retail and restaurant units at street level, and unoccupied rooms on the upper floors.
Under MDO’s vision, the derelict site was reactivated, meeting modern needs with a respect for history. The ornate Victorian red-brick and limestone façade was retained and refurbished, using delicate methods to avoid damaging the building’s character. Atop the retained façade, a traditional slate roof with copper dormers sympathetically caps the building, while dominant brick chimneys are reinstated as an important feature visible from George’s Street.
Behind the historic façade, a new internal core provides mixed-use activity at ground level, enhancing the vitality of the streetscape while breathing new life and animation into the existing disused building. When combined with a new contemporary infill building, whose form, materiality, and detailing echoes that of its neighbours, the resulting scheme reinstates an important corner site in Dublin’s urban grain through street level retail and a 97-bed Premier Inn hotel.