January 05, 2006

Dublin Design: Poised to Break Out

The New York Times

Published: January 5, 2006

LETTERFRACK, a bleak and boggy village in western Ireland, was once best known for a reform school run by the Christian Brothers that was rife with physical and sexual abuse. Some 100 boys died there in its 87 years of operation, before it finally closed in 1974 - a dismal record even by the standards of church-run Irish reformatories.

Thirteen years later, when the Letterfrack Furniture College opened, it could not afford a new building, and instead took up residence in the prisonlike, seemingly haunted reform school. It was an odd start for an institution intended to reverse the depressed town's fortunes, and for several years the college operated on a meager budget with a skeletal staff, offering vocational training in furniture design and production to local students. But now Letterfrack is becoming famous for the furniture college, which as of 2002 has a stylish modern campus designed by the celebrated Dublin architecture firm O'Donnell & Tuomey. The school, now known for the exceptional quality of its graduates' wood furniture, attracts applicants from all over Ireland and Europe.

Posted by kshaw at January 5, 2006 08:11 AM