The facades of buildings can tell a lot about Grafton Street one of Dublin's most famous shopping streets.

Architect Brian Boyd takes a walk down Grafton Street in Dublin and examines the changes that have taken place over the last twenty five years.

I read the facades of the building to assess the past.

While fashions have changed, shops have come and gone and people are no longer with us, parts of the street remain the same.

Grafton Street has always been a wonderful shopping street. It's just the right size, not too long and not too wide. It isn't like O'Connell Street which really is for parades and processions.

Captain Americas on Grafton Street, Dublin (1987)
Captain Americas on Grafton Street, Dublin (1987)

Twenty five years ago, the city traffic squeezed down Grafton Street jostling all the time with pedestrians, a dangerous mixture of human being and motor car. Since 1982, the street pedestrians won full control of the street with pedestrianisation putting an end to traffic. Brian Boyd believes that it could have been done better and still feels nervous walking down the street which he says still feels like a road. He feels that the road surface needs to be changed to make people feel that they are walking on safe ground.

The traffic route at the College Green end of Grafton Street around Trinity College remains. This is where the best buildings are which have undergone the least change. Number 1 Grafton Street is the home of the Provost of Trinity College which he describes as a sensational building.

The very best address in the entire city.

No. 1 Grafton Street, Provost's House, Trinity College Dublin
No. 1 Grafton Street, Provost's House, Trinity College Dublin

Opposite the Provost's residence, there are noble bank buildings. Apart from the Provost of Trinity College, nobody lives on Grafton Street any longer. There are two main department stores on the street, Brown Thomas and Switzers. Brian Boyd is critical of the modernisation of the ground floor of the Switzers building.

I can't understand why they would want to have shop windows with bland marble surround with rounded corners. The original design was so much better.

On the other hand, Brown Thomas, he says, have an excellent shop front having embraced change for the better.

Another poor example of poor architecture on the street is the former Woolworth's building, now home to HMV.

It's a dreadful example of how not to infill the facade of a street with no respect for the neighbours.

McDonalds has also arrived on Grafton Street in the building of the former Mitchell's Café. Evidence of the original café is still evident on the upper floors of the building. Further up the street, another restaurant Captain America's has opened on the site of the former Robert Roberts café.

On the upper end of Grafton Street, there is still evidence that this was formerly a row of townhouses.

The famous Bewley's café has happily remained relatively unchanged from the outside.

Built in 1862, one building at 24-25 Grafton Street is an example of Celtic revival design by British architect Matthew Digby Wyatt. However, the ground floor shops do not do justice to the building above. A neighbouring building, put up in the last 25 years, does not live up to these standards.

While Brian Boyd is critical of many of the modern shop fronts, he does praise the designers of the new Body Shop.

It's a first class ground floor design for the entire facade. It's a building that's very much in sympathy with this time and with this place.

This episode of 'Face of the Earth' was broadcast on 24 March 1987. The presenter is Brian Boyd.