The Divergence of the Professions: James Gandon, John Rennie and the Building of the Revenue Docks

Title: The Divergence of the Professions: James Gandon, John Rennie and the Building of the Revenue Docks
Authors: Shotton, Elizabeth
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Date: 7-Jun-2015
Abstract: The Scottish engineer John Rennie (1761 - 1821) is often attributed as author of the trio of docks built in Dublin for the Commissioners of Revenue in Ireland. However the original dock was actually the work of James Gandon (1742 - 1823), a British architect who rose to fame during the course of his career in Ireland. This original dock, constructed 1792 - 1796 , formed part of Gandon's first commission in Ireland to design the new Custom House and was built concurrently to the Grand Canal Dock by William Jessop (1745 - 1814) on the opposite side of the River LIffey. The confusion in authorship likely resulted from the significant rebuilding of the dock as part of Rennie's commission to add additional docks and warehouses to the quarter twenty years later. Gandon's original Revenue Dock was a near replica, in both form and technique, of the Old Dock in Liverpool, first constructed by Thomas Steers (1672 - 1750) in 1715 and largely reconstructed after 1743, again by Steers. But, while dock engineering in Britain and Ireland was in its infancy when Steers built the first dock in Liverpool innovations had been introduced by both Jessop and Rennie by the end of the eighteenth century that rendered Gandon's work obsolete even as it was in construction . Gandon's ignorance of the rapidly evolving technologies used in docks, even when they were being undertaken in such near proximity to his own work, speaks to the differences emerging between the disciplines of architecture and engineering in t he late eighteenth century. The delineations, now so clearly apparent, between builder and designer, architect and engineer were still relatively ambiguous and fluid in the eighteenth century. Even between Gandon and Rennie, explicitly acknowledged as architect and engineer respectively, there was some overlap in the types of commissions undertaken, including docks, bridges and buildings in both men's careers. While the exponential growth in new technologies, materials and infrastructural projects in the late eighteenth century certainly contributed to the rise of the civil engineer as dIstinct from the architect, equally significant was the philosophical shift in the understanding of what constituted appropriate training, which led to a disparity in interests and aptitudes between architects and engineers.
Type of material: Conference Publication
Publisher: The Construction History Society of America
Copyright (published version): 2015 The Construction History Society of America
Keywords: History and construction of specific projects;The changing role of the professions in construction;Dock construction;Building techniques in response to their environments
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Is part of: Bowen, B., Friedman, D., Leslie, T., Ochsendorf, J. (eds.) Proceedings of the 5th International Congress on Construction History
Conference Details: 5th International Congress on Construction History, Chicago, USA, 3- 7 June 2015
Appears in Collections:Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy Research Collection

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