11 November 2017
By Elaine Murphy
Honouring the best Buildings and businesses in Cork
The awards honour the best-designed and best-kept buildings in Cork City and suburbs, and are aimed at rewarding businesses and building care-takers for their efforts to protect, enhance and improve the city’s street scape. This significantly contributes to a public perception of the city as a vibrant and dynamic place to live, visit, invest and do business in.
The Cork Better Building Awards were presented by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald and President of Cork Business Association Pat O Connell, at a lunch in The Imperial Hotel on Friday November 10. Deirdre O Shaughnessy from 96fm was MC on the day.
The winners of the awards were:
Best in Retail: The Cork Flower Studio.
With its stunning window displays and enlivened presentation onto the street, the Cork Flower Studio rightfully celebrates 10 years in business on Douglas Street. Its colourful and cheerful shop front sets a wonderful example for neighbouring businesses to follow suit by brightening up their shopfronts, contributing to the enhancement of the entire area.
Retail Special Merit Award: Azure
Azure is a perfect example of how a successful business can thrive and also help rejuvenate a previously, neglected quay front through the use of attractive colour, signage and window display. By renovating this protected structure, Azure has improved this section of George’s Section drawing shoppers across the river from the traditional, island destination.
Best in Heritage & Conservation: CIT Crawford College of Art & Design 46 Grand Parade
Reputed to have been designed by the Pain brothers in circa 1840 as a dwelling, with a riverside annex, portico and balcony along Grand Parade, added later by another important Cork architect Sir John Benson for its use as the City Club House; 46 Grand Parade is a stunning building located at a prominent position on the Grand Parade and Southern Channel of the River Lee. As the new home of part of the CIT Crawford College of Art and Design, its careful restoration and repurposing for this use, has ensured that this important protected structure will thrive once again and be admired by future generations of Corkonians and visitors.
Best in Cafe / Restaurant: Spitjack Rotisserie
The judges were impressed by the way in which a vacant unit, previously in use as Cork Film Studios was sensitively renovated and changed into a vibrant new restaurant, adding to the culinary scene along Washington Street. The subtle use of colour on the ground floor shop front with replacement, timber, sash windows and painted signage overhead, compliments the red brick terrace of nineteenth century buildings, providing an attractive frontage onto the street.
Best in Pub Front: Cask
Set in the heart of Cork’s Victorian Quarter, Cask provides a wonderful example of how stunning lighting and Art Deco-style interiors can contribute to the vibrancy of the street, attracting customers through its full-height arched windows onto MacCurtain Street. Formerly an antiques shop and part of the imposing, four-storey, former ‘Hibernia Buildings’, Cask is a unique, new cocktail bar with a cosmopolitan feel making perfect use of the seating area in the outdoor courtyard area and former carriage arch adjacent.
Best in Commercial Business Frontage (excl. retail): The English Market
As one of the city’s top tourist attractions and diverse places to shop and do business; the English Market has traditionally been accessed through its more prominent Prince’s Street entrance. However, the provision of new signage and attractive painting of the Grand Parade entrance, has succeeded in highlighting the western entrance to the market, enticing pedestrians to further explore the delights of one of oldest municipal markets of its kind in the world.
Best in Tourism, Arts & Accommodation: The Montenotte Hotel
Following its recent refurbishment, the Montenotte Hotel provides a unique visitor experience; taking advantage of spectacular views of the city and surrounds from the Panorama Bistro and Terrace, housing Cork’s first hotel, in-house cinema and investing in the exquisite sunken Victorian Gardens. The Montenotte Hotel sets a new bar for hotel accommodation, providing a destination within a destination for visitors to the city.
Best New Development: The Capitol
The Capitol has breathed new life into the western end of St. Patrick’s Street and the Grand Parade, with the addition of new retail and office space and also the reopening of the historic Oyster Tavern. Following the closure of the Capitol cinema in 2005 with the site lying vacant for a number of years, this new development has rejuvenated the area and ensured the economic wellbeing of the city centre continues to flourish into the future.
Judges Choice: St Angela’s College
Opening its doors on its current location on St. Patrick’s Hill in 1888, St. Angela’s College has recently been redeveloped to huge success. Working with an extremely difficult, sloping site, the results are nothing short of spectacular. The judges felt that recognition was well deserved for this unique project because of its contribution to the continued operation of a city centre school, adding vibrancy to the area, the way in which its new build elements complement the setting, with the sensitive restoration of heritage buildings and take full advantage of its unique setting, framing diverse views of the surrounding city.
Speaking at the awards, Pat O’Connell, President of Cork Business Association, said, “I would like to sincerely congratulate all of our winners on their well-deserved awards. We are delighted to once again work in partnership with Cork City Council and the Evening Echo on these awards, which are incredibly important for the city. We sometimes forget what a beautiful city Cork is and how rich and diverse our architectural offering is”.
“The Awards are a fantastic opportunity to encourage businesses to improve their facades and the overall look of the city’s street-scape. Much of the attention of the awards is on the maintenance and simple good housekeeping of buildings – painting and cleaning, planting and enhancements – ways that will make the very best of the building. The exterior of a building is one of its biggest selling tools, so we are encouraging everyone to have pride in their buildings – it’s an investment in ourselves that can offer genuine rewards – not least of which is a sense of pride of place.”
Also commenting, Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, said, “Cork City Council recognises the importance of the city centre to the social economic and cultural life of the Cork area and considers that the efforts of many property owners to maintain and develop their premises should be acknowledged and rewarded. We need to keep the look of our building to a high standard and, in doing so, highlight Cork as a fantastic place to shop, work and live.”
The awards are run by Cork Business Association and sponsored by Cork City Council and The Evening Echo. The judging panel includes Ann Bogan Senior Planner Cork City Council, Paul McGuirk, Cork City Co-ordinator Cork City Council, Brigh Ryan Asst. Planner Cork City Council, Alan Healy Deputy News Editor Evening Echo, Eoin Kennedy Zone Digital, Pat O’Connell President Cork Business Association.
Entries will reopen next summer for the 2018 awards.