Grand Canal Theatre / Daniel Libeskind

© Ros Kavanagh

Architect: Daniel Libeskind
Location: Dublin Docklands,
Principal in Charge: Stefan Blach
Project Leader: Gerhard Brun
Project Team: Feargal Doyle, Patrick Cox, Andreas Baumgärtner, Matthias Rühl, Toralf Sümmchen, Anna Poullou, Guillaume Chapallaz, Nathaniel Lloyd, Jens Jessen, Jens Hoffman, Kaori Hirasawa, Luca Mangione, Anja Bungies and Christian Müller
Client: Ramford Limited, Chartered Land
South Office Block Area: 21,092 sqm
Theatre Area: 13,768 sqm
North Office Block Area: 33,320 sqm
Budget: $269.9M USD
Project Year: 2009-2010
Photographs: Ros Kavanagh

The concept of the Grand Canal Square Theatre and Commercial Development is to build a powerful cultural presence expressed in dynamic volumes sculpted to project a fluid and transparent public dialogue with the cultural, commercial and residential surroundings whilst communicating the various inner forces intrinsic to the Theatre and office buildings. This composition creates a dynamic urban gathering place and icon mirroring the joy and drama emblematic of Dublin itself.

floor plan

The 2000 seat Grand Canal Theatre is a landmark that creates a focus for its urban context, specifically Grand Canal Square, the new urban piazza at the waterfront of Grand Canal Harbour. The architectural concept of the Theatre is based on stages: the stage of the Theatre itself, the stage of the piazza, and the stage of the multiple level Theatre lobby above the piazza. The Theatre becomes the main façade of a large public piazza that has a five star hotel and residences on one side and an office building on the other. The piazza acts as a grand outdoor lobby for the Theatre, itself becoming a stage for civic gathering with the dramatic Theatre elevation as a backdrop offering platforms for viewing. From its rooftop terrace, the Theatre offers spectacular views out over the Dublin Harbour.

© Ros Kavanagh

The Theatre is integrated into the Commercial Development by office buildings that include 45,500 square meters of leasable office and retail space. With their twin facades, glazed atriums and landscaped roofs, the two office blocks offer sustainable state of the art work environments. By designing multi-story glazed atriums, the commercial buildings integrate with the adjacent retail, residential, cultural and public space components. Three prominent entrances make the buildings accessible from Grand Canal Square, Misery Hill and from Cardiff Lane. Although both offices are designed in the same architectural language, each responds to its site uniquely. Two Grand Canal Square (South Block), which is adjacent to the new 2,000 seat Theatre, opens up towards the Square, while Four & Five Grand Canal Square (North Block), in conjunction with the Theatre, form a dramatic gateway to Dublin Harbour.

© Ros Kavanagh

The Grand Canal Square Development enhances the new urban structure of Grand Canal Harbor with an exciting cultural landmark and magnet for Dublin, a destination for working, shopping, and entertainment. The Theatre will open in March, 2010 with the opening of the office blocks scheduled for mid 2010 and 2011.

View this project in Google Maps

* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Grand Canal Theatre / Daniel Libeskind" 14 Mar 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed 28 May 2015. <>
  • rupertKensington

    looks pretty good, Its amazing how much better his buildings look when the forms are not completely violent. He is certainly condemned to do crystalline forms for the rest of his career without some huge manifesto change, but this one actually has formal relationships to programs and public space. I dig it

  • Michael

    the luck of the irish

  • Dustin

    Libeskinds first project: Wow!
    Libeskinds second project: Huh,
    Libeskinds first project: Hmmm…
    Rest of Libeskinds projects: ….Yawn

  • Franman

    Libeskind needs to find an alternative to his design forms if he wants to stay relevant in the market. Somenone like Renzo Piano keeps on re-inventing himself but you can still see his signature in all his buildings all over the world without them even closely resembling one another. Libeskind has now officially become boring.

    • Joshua

      Libeskind has “manufactured architectural style.” It is late for him to radically change, as people who hire Libeskind are expecting, well, Libeskind.
      I watched/read an interview recently where Jacques Herzog spoke on this topic, and the constant shifting of the style of Herzog and DeMeuron in order to avoid this “product” feel.

  • Lucas Gray

    This building is ugly. Yes, a subjective remark but with no attention to climate, context or symbolism what is left other than a subjective feeling? Other than the glass facade what differentiates this building from the ROM in Toronto or the Jewish Museum in Berlin? It is a jagged monstrosity with thin sliced windows with a metal skin – boring, uncreative and a waste of money and resources.

  • Richie

    The style is same-old Libeskind, sure, but I think the wedge-shaped form works well in this context and the interiors are impressive.

    • Maki

      Concert hall interiors are usually designed by serious professionals around acoustic criteria. All Libeskind did was throw in the cliched slashes when the real work was done by the other professionals.

  • alex.age5

    in politycal way it’s good to say his boring…but i admire his works, just like miss hadid- they’ve created worldwide working architectual offices and even if architects say that they are doing the copy’n'paste thing people will like it, because we build for poeople not for architectual critic.

    great project, wish to see it on holiday

  • peppy

    other than the wedge shape and diagonal lines that repeating themself, this building is quite impressive…

  • bLogHouse

    Libeskind pulls wedgies on the context. Still waiting for the atomic wedgie.

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  • B Joban

    Afraid the Google map location is wrong there. Move due south across the river and you can see the theatre under construction and the plaza before it.

  • larcencielle

    I’m very impressed his new building design.
    There’s no trace of his iconic Jewish Museum that was repeated excessively in his other designs.
    It’s fresh, well-thought out, and most of all deserves the title “Libeskind”

    • bLogHouse

      Oh, it deserves the title all right, but it’s not a flattering
      title at all.

  • Eric

    It’s amazing to think that a supposedly project-specific architectural vocabulary designed especially for the Jewish Mueseum to represent the explicit sadness, suffering and tragedy that was the Holocaust can be so easily co-opted for, and so casually grafted onto a building for entertainment and amusement in another place for another culture. It confirms that Libeskind is just a joke.

  • pwq

    For Liebskinds projects I will always applaud the structural engineering and the Owners commitment to spend that kind of $ on the infrastructure of the design.

    I feel the most successful aspect of this is the plaza. I think it would be refreshing to get away from of the random and disjointed lines. Lines for lines sake_meh.

    As for the Herzog comment, Liebskind (and Gehry) are brand designers. Herzog and deMuron is far more analytical. If a brand is what I was looking for, I’d take Gehry over Lieber any day.

  • Rouan


    The structural engineers should indeed be applauded, they of course have very little say in all the chaos that Liebskind wants to create. Which leads me to another point: Why all this chaos? I know its a “brand” thing but so much of it is just for show, if not all and its sad that all those extra design gimmicks in the end blow the budget to ridiculous proportions. H&DM would have done a fantastic job in my opinion…probably for much much less as well.

  • Maki

    Libeskind’s sketch is pathetic. I bet he spent less than 30 seconds analysing the site before he threw that down on paper. That’s why all his designs look so similar. He’s incapable of trying to understand the genus loci that might produce a much more rewarding solution. So his office just keep churning out those wedges and diagonals. Whatever it is it is NOT architecture.

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  • Karl DV

    Same old same old from the Lieberschmuck. How long will he keep milking this shard thing? His studio has become a factory for churning out formulaic crud.

  • Nicholas Patten

    Nicely Designed: Grand Canal Theatre.

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  • Richard

    What’s his reason for the silly diagonals this time? Maybe the direction the rain was blowing when he scribbled on a napkin as his plane descended on Dublin?

  • le craic

    Nice feature with superb photographs of @GCTheatreDublin on

  • Fudge

    While I generally enjoy the statement this form makes, and find it visually appealing, I cannot buy into the theory of this project and feel that Libeskind is simply pastiching himself.

  • Brazenhead

    Exactly how does this project “project a fluid and transparent public dialogue with the cultural, commercial and residential surroundings”.

    And how does it “communicate the various inner forces intrinsic to the Theatre and office buildings”? (And what exactly are are these forces that Libeskind alone can discern”?)

    And how does this “mirror the joy and drama emblematic of Dublin itself”? Does Libeskind even know Dublin? Would he recognize a pint of Guinness if he saw one?

    Libeskind is full of it. This pathetic attempt at architectural discourse is what makes Libeskind and his staff look like the fools they must truly be. It’s idiotic to say the least.

  • bLogHouse

    theater-goers of Dublin, wear helmets and gloves – Libeskind’s
    architecture can be a dangerous experience. I saw a man with cuts and bruises after visiting the Art Museum in Denver.

    • pwq

      the best thing about that project is the car park. not the weird condo’s but the actual garage. THAT was well done for what it is.

  • Chiaro Scuro

    So, do the angular incisions here also reflect the “scars of Jewish people” as they do in Berlin?

    Just goes to show you that the aesthetics of a good design (Berlin) shouldn’t be appropriated to any other building. Everything he achieved in Berlin that meant something important has now been reduced to mere aesthetic kitsch and trademark.
    Way to go Daniel!

    • Eckland

      I think Nina Libeskind is running the practice now. She knows nothing aboout design and is just interested in milking Daniel’s gimmicks for all their worth. Meanwhile she has Danny running around to a gazillion lectures and book signings. Designwise there’s no one looking after the shop, certainly not those undergrads who churn out Libeskind’s kitsch formula on any project whether it’s a home or a museum or shopping mall.

      • philadio

        Nina IS running the show…She brought in image and style consultants to transform Daniel from a nerdy douche into a trendy, all black wearing douche. If anyone has seen the Ground Zero documentary with Libeskind you will see how scripted his life is, right down to the things he is told to think – robot man.

        With respect to the building at hand – It never ceases to amaze me how this studio always turns to lying about the actual product that will ultimately be built. Look no further than the presentation models to be instantly deceived – glass roofs, there are trees coming out of the roofs, huge expanses of glass etc., and in reality what you get is very much the opposite. Besides his token strokes of the knife to simulate the destruction of Judaism in every building, you are really not left with very much glass – but you know what, it never works out. Whether too expensive or just plain impossible…

  • Richie

    Reading the responses I think people get too hung up on Libeskind’s bullshit rhetoric.. Did the slashes and jagged shapes ever “mean” something, even in the Jewish museum? It’s just a stylistic language that he finds aesthetically pleasing, the same as a sculptor or painter might have.. Of course his theoretical justifications are laughable, you’re better off to ignore them and just look at the finished building as a sculptural object sitting in its context, as will most people who will interact with the building without ever knowing how the architect derived the form.

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  • Lil Jimmy

    That concept sketch is an embarrassment to architects everywhere. And how financially irresponsible is the useless skewed curtainwall? What’s the point of spending all that money, for that?