Proof-reading the Bernal building

Getting it right isn’t optional

Anyone who knows me will be familiar with my obsessive attention to detail when it comes to the printed word.

I can’t help it.  This is some kind of perceptual disorder that causes typos and grammatical errors to jump out of the page and poke me in the eye with a big red finger that says Look at me, you bastard!

I didn’t ask for this.   I didn’t ask to be the poor swine who can’t read a menu without noticing the badly-spelled French, though I have learned to be the thoughtful one who doesn’t mention it to his fellow diners, and that surely has to be progress, however trivial.

Of course, there’s an upside to my quasi-OCD, in the fact that I do merciless, painful but highly-effective proof-reading.  You might be in pain after your PhD thesis has passed through the Bockalysation process, but at the end, your thesis will not only be readable but also entirely free of typographical errors.  It might not be free of things that irritate silly faux-grammarians though.  The infinitives might tend to be horribly split.  Your sentences will begin with prepositions. They might lack subjects and verbs. Maybe. But on the other hand, their lengths will vary in a pleasing way, causing a vague, intangible word-music to tickle your reader’s optic nerve.

I once proof-read a novel for a victim client and when the work was done, every page had between fifty and a hundred yellow highlighter marks. It was dispiriting, but we slogged our way through it together page by ponderous page until in the end we got there.

When we finally wrapped it up, the victim client asked me that overwhelming question.  What’s that going to cost me?

And I couldn’t help myself.

It depends, I told him.

On what?

Well, I could charge you by the page.

You could.

Or I could charge you by the day.

You could.

Or I could charge you by the number of years this thing took off my fucking life!

What they’ve been sayin’ all these years is true, Mama.  I can be a bit cutting at times.

Where’s all this going?

Here.  Here is where it’s going. I’ve proof-read all sorts of things and I still do.  Theses. Books. Technical reports.

But I’ve never, ever proof-read a building until today.

Today was the first time something jumped off the face of a new building and poked me between the eye, hissing Look at me, you bastard!  But that’s precisely what the Bernal building in the University of Limerick did to me, not once but twice.

University of Limerick

I’d been following this job for a while, fascinated by the way they were fitting the panels.  We used to have a door when I was a child with glass that had the same sort of pattern so it grabbed me straight away.  I like this sort of thing.

University of Limerick


University of Limerick

Marvellous, I thought.  Every last detail worked out.  How easy they make it look.

Well, actually no, Ted.

Here’s what I noticed this morning, or to be more specific, here’s what jumped out and poked me in the eye with a big red dry finger.  Look at me, you bastard!

University of Limerick


Do you see it?  Do you?  Aaaaarrrggghhhh!!!!

And it’s not alone.   Here’s another one.  Aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!!!!!

University of Limerick


In my world, if you write a page on a silly old blog, it’s worth getting right even when it costs nothing.

How much did this thing cost?  €52 million.

This is a structure dedicated to science and engineering.   It’s all about accuracy and precision.

Fix it, lads.

10 thoughts on “Proof-reading the Bernal building

  1. Jesus, well spotted.

    They should be able to take off those panels and fit up the matching ones easily enough.. hopefully.

    The lads had to have noticed that when they were putting the panels on.. and thought, ara tis grand no one will notice. hmmmm.

  2. All those designer hours at the table, and then the fellas in the crane “sure it’s only a few dots”!!

  3. I suffer from the same affliction, both with printed text and the with aesthetics of the built environment. A misspelled word jumps out at me within milliseconds of turning the page. I often think I wouldn’t do a bad job as a proof reader. A two second scan and I’ll identify all kinds of errors. Visual blights are more offensive and can put me in a bad mood. Sometimes I think I’m gong quietly insane, if I’m not already. Does nobody else notice this stuff? Have you seen the new light standards on William Street or Clancy Strand, for example? All too tall, too industrial and too over-bearing. Worst of all they’re not in a straight line or even equispaced. Or the wrought iron hooks installed on Sarsfield Bridge for hanging flower baskets? I despair. That flaw in the Bernal Building panelling is downright criminal. If an architect signs off on that, what hope have we at all?

  4. It’s not easy to be precise when you have The Daily Mirror tucked under one arm though. An element of dexterity is lost.

  5. Beautiful work.
    We had an architect out here who designed public buildings and lighthouses. 150 years ago or more. Reckoned his work was so perfect he’d build a flaw into each of them just to retain touch with the common man. He’d put in one cracked tile or two different hinges on one door, whatever. Bit of fun trying to find each flaw as we wander around.
    Would this be in the same style I wonder…

  6. Mr. Bock..
    Will you post an updated… if they correct their mistake…..
    Surely they’ll see it when they sign over of the building…
    and none of this shit “ah tis grand… just sign here” “what’s a couple of polka dots amongst friends”

  7. anyone see what is happening to the old clothes factory on edward street? looks like the stone work is being covered in plaster. also the stones around the archway seem to be replaced by concrete blocks. now it was raining when i drove past, so i can not be sure about the archway. but something that seemed to have a lot of visual potential, now looks bland and boring. maybe when its finished and the boarding taken down it might look ok, although i have my doubts

  8. Apparently the panels arrived from the factory that way, error was spotted but no choice but to install until the replacements arrived…… its not the ‘lads’ fault.

  9. I passed by that structure last week. It does catch the eye, it looks so out of place, but, I never noticed the detail.

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