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Benson + Forsyth has to work around Georgian Dublin

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Benson + Forsyth has finished a national gallery redesign, incorporating a semi-derelict house, which it sent it to the planners last week.

The architect had to scrap its original one-storey design with large rooflights after conservationists fussed about the proposed demolition of the run-down Georgian home. The £13.5 million design for the National Gallery of Ireland is now over two floors, and the home will be refurbished to house works of art and some of the learning space will be lost.

Architect Gordon Benson said: 'Conservationists thought they would wound rather than kill us. They wanted to make the point that a major national institution should not tear down Georgian Dublin. Planners turned off the life support mechanism but this should jump-start the heart.

'Client and conservation interventions are often irrational,' he said. 'But they add another dimension, another layer of the unexpected, and it often works out in the end.'

The project is set to finish in 2000 and must run on time if it is to attract £7.5 million of European funding.

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