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O'Connell Street Hotels

Spire / O’Connell Street in Dublin

 
The Spire of Dublin, officially titled the Monument of Light is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument 120 metres (390 ft) in height, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillar on O'Connell Street in Dublin. The spire was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, who sought an "Elegant and dynamic simplicity bridging art and technology". Construction began on 18 December 2002 when the first section was put in place. In all six sections, of about 20m high each, were placed, with the last added on 21 January 2003. It is an elongated cone of diameter 3 m (9.8 ft) at the base, narrowing to 15 cm (5.9 in) at the top. Construction of the world's tallest sculpture was delayed because of difficulty in obtaining planning permission and environmental regulations. It is constructed from eight hollow tubes of stainless steel and features a tuned mass damper to counteract sway. The steel underwent shot peening in order to subtly reflect the light falling on it. The metal changes colours due to its reflective properties.

During the day it maintains its steel look, but at dusk the monument appears to merge into the sky. The base of the monument is lit and the top 12 m (39 ft) is illuminated to provide a beacon in the night sky across the city. The monument was commissioned as part of a redesigned street layout in 1999. O'Connell Street was perceived to have gone into decline from the 1970s. Some people blamed the appearance of fast food restaurants and the opening of bargain basement shops-all using cheap plastic shop fronts-visually unattractive and obtrusive, the existence of a number of derelict sites, and the 1966 destruction of Nelson's Pillar in a bombing by former IRA members, as reasons for the decline in a once famous and attractive street.

In the 1990s, plans were launched to improve the streetscape. The excessive number of trees in the central reservation, which had overgrown and obscured the street's views and monuments, was reduced dramatically. Statues were cleaned and in some cases relocated. Shop-owners were required to replace plastic signage and frontage with more visually attractive designs. Private car traffic was re-directed where possible away from the street, with its number of traffic lanes reduced, to allow more 'public ownership' of the street for pedestrians. The centrepiece of this regeneration was to be a replacement monument for Nelson's Pillar, the Spire of Dublin, chosen through an international competition by a committee under the then chairmanship of the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Alderman Joe Doyle from a large number of submissions. It is also known as The Spik.

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