No glass box on our docks!

The re-purposing of the iconic Odlums building in Cork city’s docklands will set it apart from the “nondescript glass box architecture” of previous decades.

That’s according to city councillor and historian Kieran McCarthy who has welcomed a €350 million proposal from O'Callaghan Properties for the development of a 4.162 hectares site at Kennedy Quay.

The proposal includes a new rehabilitation hospital, as well as a number of multi-storey office and apartment buildings. It is understood that the project could create up to 5,000 jobs.

Cllr McCarthy said O'Callaghan Properties have proven they can deliver what they say in a timely manner and have played a positive role in drawing large companies into Cork. He also praised the developer for being open to feedback in the past.

He said: “The proposal is to be generally welcomed. This area of South Docks has been derelict for many years and crying out for a new use.”

Cllr McCarthy continued: “From my perspective, I am appreciative of their focus on blending in the old Odlums building and finding a cultural use for it. I think such a building will be a very special part of this corner of South Docks.”

He added that the re-purposed Odlums building could be the space to retain the historical memory of the docks, whilst also showcasing modern cultural life in Cork. However, the councillor said he was disappointed that the grain silos at the site are not a part of the re-purposing plans.

He said: “I think part of them should be retained to add character to the development. I know in my own submission that I will be making, I will be focusing in on that and making general comments on the need for place-making. In the past, I have been critical of the creation of nondescript glass box architecture, which doesn’t add to any sense of place.”

Cllr McCarthy also praised recent developments in the docklands area that have incorporated important historical buildings into their design.

“I am grateful that the developers in North and South Docks have done some great restoration work on certain old buildings. There is certainly a better balance being struck in retaining the sense of place compared to previous decades. I will be reading the O’Callaghan Property proposal carefully once it becomes available to the general public,” concluded the councillor.

The re-purposing of the Odlums building will include 84 one, two and three-bedroom apartments, a cinema, a food hall, office space and a rooftop viewing deck offering a 360 degree view of the city.

The nearby R&H Hall, however, will be demolished if the proposal is passed by Cork City Council.

The plans have been hailed as “a new era for Cork” and a major show of confidence in the region by Cork Chamber.

Paula Cogan, President of Cork Chamber said: “This ambitious project is a major boost for the city and region. It will be transformative, regenerating the previously industrial zone of the docklands to a district that will thrive in a new way, driving economic growth and enhancing the attractiveness of the city for people and investors alike.”