After a 13-year process of prolonged planning issues, the Convention Centre Dublin (CCD), Ireland's international conference and event venue, has finally opened. Situated on the North Wall Quay, it is one of the final building projects to have been completed in the city's giant urban regeneration scheme known as Dublin Docklands, many of whose grandiose plans have long been abandoned, or postponed indefinitely, since Ireland crashed into a full-blown recession in 2008.
Utilising a public private partnership between property developers Treasury Holdings and the Office of Public Works (OPW), the CCD is the first state-owned, public-access building to be constructed since the foundation of the Irish State. It is also the world's first completely carbon-neutral convention centre.
Designed in 1997 by Dublin-born architect Kevin Roche, the rectangular building is bisected at the front by a 55 metre-high tilted glazed drum which contains 470 pieces of curved glass, none of which are the same size. The building accommodates up to 3,000 people attending a conference, or 2,000 at a banquet. Using state-of-the-art hydraulic engineering, many of the spaces can be transformed to suit the occasion, such as Dublin's recent X-Factor contest, the television talent show. In terms of size, at 45,522 sqm the building is as big as the Sydney Opera House.
The top floors offer panoramic views from Dublin Bay to the Phoenix Park, while at night artwork is projected from a roof opposite on to the blank back wall of the building. Also, due to the transparent nature of the design, in the evening time passers-by can observe the illuminated activity taking place inside the building's corridors.
Aged 88 and based in Connecticut USA, Roche, who is renowned for his corporate architecture around the world, longed to give Dublin a significant public building. Already a modern-day landmark, with many Dubliners dubbing it the Box in the Docks, it would appear that Roche's wish was granted.