The 100 m building is turning heads but the group’s commitment is in question

McNamara, Pierse and Sisk – all the big boys of Irish construction – are thought to be eyeing up Dublin’s most prestigious job: the U2 Tower. At more than 100 m, it will be Ireland’s tallest building, towering over the docklands.

The tender inviting bids from contractors was placed in the European Union’s Official Journal in mid-July, with a deadline of 16 October for expressions of interest.

U2 will have a recording studio in the top two storeys of what is otherwise a residential tower, and all involved understand what the presence of Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen and Adam Clayton will mean for the scheme: “Dublin Docklands Development Authority understands that the presence of U2 will add cachet to the apartments,” says a source close to the project.

There is a feeling, though, that this has fired unrealistic expectations. As The Sunday Times put it in September 2003: “The collaboration of developer and rock band fired notions of rock ‘n’ roll architecture.”

Yet U2’s involvement seems to be intermittent at best. Nobody close to the scheme claims that the band regularly attends meetings, while many of the senior figures of the project team have not even met them. “U2 has legal representatives that deal with the client,” says one industry figure in Dublin.

Dublin’s docklands authority understands that U2 will add cachet to the apartments

Source close to the project

Given the band’s commitments this is perhaps not a shock, but it has given some weight to the rumour that the band does not want the studio, as it is happy with another set-up it has elsewhere. More worrying is the rumour that the scheme might not stack up financially, because of the tower’s small footprint.

The tower has also been hit by allegations of conflict of interest because a joint entry from Burdon Dunne Architects and Craig Henry Architects won the competition to design it in 2003. One of the architects, Felim Dunne, is the brother-in-law of Paul McGuinness, U2’s manager.

Most critics acknowledged the link was a coincidence, but other controversies have taken its place. Residents of the Ringsend suburb say the 32-storey tower (pictured above) will wreck its low-rise heritage.

A leading member of the suburb’s environmental group dismissed it as a “monstrosity”.

For contractors this remains a juicy project, but bidders be warned: it is unlikely to be without its problems.