The controversial Palás arthouse cinema has been shortlisted for the 2018 World Architecture Awards in Amsterdam this November.
The Pálás cinema, which opened to the public in February, was designed by architect Tom de Paor and is run by Element Pictures. Element took over operation of the arthouse cinema in 2016 in a deal with the original charity who began the project.
It has been nominated in two categories, as a completed cultural building and for its use of colour.
Some of the other cultural buildings the Pálás is competing against this year include the Zhuhai Opera House in China, the Wadden Sea Centre in Denmark, and the Biennale Pavilion in Inidia.
The Palás has long been a source of controversy in Galway for long delays in its construction before finally opening this year, and for being seen as a black hole of public money.
Despite this, filmmaker Lelia Doolan, who first proposed the cinema in 2004, told the Irish Times the nomination is a testament to the building’s success.
“It is a wonderful vindication of Tom’s vision and of the long years that we and Galway gave to make a beautiful building.”
The building itself is fitted with 22 resin-coated windows designed by Irish artist Patrick Scott, bathing the interior with coloured light when the sun is out.
Element Pictures’ Andrew Lowe said the “talent and singular vision” of Mr. de Paor was responsible for the nomination. For his part Mr. de Paor is reportedly delighted for the recognition the Palás is being shown.
Standing on a raised platform, the grey-fronted cinema towers over the surrounding buildings down by the Spanish Arch.
A report by the Charities Regulator into the management for the arthouse cinema was highly critical of the board of trustees of Solas – Galway Picture Palace for discrepancies in reported income and their handling of the sale to Element Pictures.
The regulator found that the charity reported no income after 2007 despite receiving continued donations from the public after that date, and didn’t do enough to make sure the best value was achieved in transferring assets to Element Pictures.
Nearly €9 million of public money was spent bringing the arthouse cinema to fruition, including €2 million spent by Galway City Council buying the site it sits on.
As part of the deal for Element Pictures to complete the cinema, a 30 year lease was signed. For the first 25 years the city council will receive just one euro in rent a year, and full market value will be charged for the final five years of the lease.
Winners will be announced at the World Architecture Festival at the RAI Amsterdam in the Netherlands from November 28-30 this year.
The Palás will be one of the most significant venues of the Galway Film Fleadh on this month, with many of the 107 programmed events set to be shown there.