A Tectonic Syntax: Key Works

Kenneth Frampton 

In an architectural practice of consistent quality one invariably encounters key works that play a particularly formative role in the gradual evolution of a ‘house’ style. In this regard certain pieces seem to have been particularly seminal in the development of the practice of Sheila O’Donnell and John Tuomey, following on from their participation in the urban renewal of the Temple Bar district in Dublin as members of the so called Group 91. This broadly ambitious collective undertaking prompted these architects to produce one of the most monumental buildings of their career, namely, the five story National Photographic Archive, faced in red brick, with channel glass and zinc cladding, finished with standing seams, plus Scarperesque stone quoins and similar conceits, loosely drawn from the Italian Tendenza. It is ironic, to say the least, that a projection cabin built into the fabric of the National Photographic Center should be complemented by a retractable screen attached to the side of the adjacent National Gallery of Photography also designed by O’Donnell and Tuomey; the two together facilitating open air cinematic presentations, in good weather, projecting across a forecourt between the buildings...

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