The Grand Canal Docks first opened in 1796. At the time they were the world's largest docks. They fell into decline within just a few decades, due mostly to disuse with the arrival of the railways. The landscape was overwhelmed by Dublin Gas Company's mountains of black coal, along with chemical factories, tar pits, bottle factories and iron foundries. However, bakers and millers maintained business along the southern edge of the inner basin.
By the 1960s, the Grand Canal Docks were almost completely derelict. By 1987, it was decided that Hanover Quay was too toxic to sell. Regeneration began in 1998, when Bord Gáis sold the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) the former gasworks site located in the area between Sir John Rogerson's Quay and Hanover Quay for €19 million. The DDDA spent €52 million decontaminating the land, even though the likely return was estimated at just €40 million. The decontamination took place under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency between 2002 and 2006. The process involved constructing an underground wall eight metres deep around the affected area and the contaminated land dug out and removed. By the time the decontamination was finished, an inflated property bubble and increased demand in the area (brought on, in part, by the decision by Google to set up its European headquarters nearby), allowed the authority to sell the land for €300 million. The DDDA injected some of its new wealth into the area's infrastructure including seers, street lighting, and civic spaces.
A number of significant developments have happened since involving the construction of millions worth of real estate, the arrival of several thousand new residents, and the establishment of what is now known as Silicon Docks.
Most of the buildings surrounding Grand Canal Square such as the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, The Marker Hotel, and HQ office development, were developed by McCauley Daye O’Connell Architects. Notable buildings in the Grand Canal Dock area include:
Alto Vetro - The Alto Vetro apartment building was awarded the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s (RIAI) Silver Medal for Housing (2007-2008).It was built by the Montevetro developers Treasury Holdings.
Boland's Mill - Boland's Mill was a functioning mill until 2001. The site, including older stone buildings and taller concrete silos, is now derelict. The site is currently undergoing a €150 million reconstruction to become Bolands Quay, accommodating new residences, commercial, retail, and civic spaces.
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre - The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is the largest theatre in Ireland. It designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Liebeskind. It was opened as the Grand Canal Theatre in 2010 but renamed in March 2012 as part of a paid naming rights agreement.
The Factory - The Factory houses Irish Film and Television Network studios, as well as rehearsal and recording studios where a number of U2's albums were recorded.
Google Docks - The Montevetro building completed in 2010 stands at a height of 67 metres and is currently the tallest commercial building in Dublin. It was sold to Google in January 2011 and subsequently renamed "Google Docks". In 2014, the Google Docks building was joined by an "iconic" curving three-pronged steel and transparent glass footbridge to Google's two office buildings across Barrow Street - Gordon House and Gasworks House. It has been named "Hyperlink".
The Marker Hotel - The Marker Hotel is one of only six of The Leading Hotels of the World in Ireland. It was designed in 2004 by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus. It opened in 2013, and offers the city’s first rooftop terrace and bar.[
Millennium Tower - Millennium Tower is an apartment building located on the Grand Canal outer basin. At 63 metres in height, it was the tallest storied building in Dublin from 1998 - 2009. [I dislike it].
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