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The Spire of Dublin, officially titled the Monument of Light ( ) is a large, stainless steel, pin-like monument in height, located on the site of the former Nelson's Pillarmarker on O'Connell Streetmarker in Dublinmarker.


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 Dungarvanmarker, 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 at the base, narrowing to 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 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 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 Streetmarker 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 Pillarmarker 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. 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, Alderman Joe Doyle from a large number of submissions. It is also known as The Spike.

Award nominations

The monument has been nominated for the following:
  • 2004 RIBA National Award & Stirling Prize shortlist
  • 2003 British Construction Industry International Award finalist
  • 2005 Mies Van der Rohe Prize list


Image:The Spire of Dublin from far.jpg|View from an inner city apartment buildingImage:DublinSpireBaseArtworkDet.jpg|Detail of the base artwork

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