The Spire of Dublin, officially titled the Monument of Light (Irish: An Túr Solais) is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument 121.2 metres (398 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". The contract was awarded to SIAC-Radley JV and it was manufactured by Radley Engineering of Dungarvan, Co. Waterford, and erected by SIAC Construction Ltd. The first section was installed on 18 December 2002. Five additional 20m sections were added with the last one installed on 21 January 2003. The spire 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, designed by engineers Arup, 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.
Reason for construction:
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. This was controversial, as the trees had been growing for a century. 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 Joe Doyle from a large number of submissions.
The monument has been nominated for the following:
2004 RIBA National Award & Stirling Prize shortlist
2003 British Construction Industry International Award finalist