A long way from the World Building of the Year

The Long Room Hub has been shortlisted as World Building of the Year 2010. It is, apparently, inspired simultaneously by bee-hives, biological cells and cliff faces – an impressive broad vision, and one which the architects clearly had trouble expressing in just one building.

While it might technically be considered a successful project considering the tight timeframe, controlled budget, and limited available space, these are not really important concerns when making a permanent addition to a 400-year-old university.

Rather than learning from the mistake of the Arts Building, the brutal concrete silhouette of which dominates Fellow’s Square, the College decided to construct another building in a similar style. Why one would do this when the 1937 Reading Room or the Old Library would make far better templates, one can only imagine – thought the most likely answer by far is “expense.” College authorities need to be practical in their use of funds, of course. But in another 100 years, it is hard to imagine the Hub will be viewed as anything other than an architectural disaster.

The €6 million building was officially opened earlier this month, after being officially “completed” during Trinity Week last. Amidst the fanfare, College officials waxed lyrical on the university’s commitment to the arts. We can at least hope that this was more than empty rhetoric, and that what goes on inside the building will be of more value than its outward appearance.