Construction work has begun on the new UCD Student Centre extension. The facility, which has been in planning since late 2005, is projected to be finished and ready for student use by September 2011.
UCD Students’ Union President, Gary Redmond, told The University Observer that “after a long time, a legal challenge and numerous months of negotiations, we’re delighted that the contactors are on site now.” Student Centre manager, Dominic O’Keeffe, echoed Redmond’s sentiments, stating that the centre planning has moved into a “new phase”.
Contractors PJ Wall, who recently completed construction work on The O2 and oversaw the construction the UCD Veterinary Science building, have been appointed to carry out the physical construction of the centre. The project manager for the new Student Centre development, Adrian Corcoran, fulfilled a similar role for the Veterinary Science construction project.
O’Keeffe has described the development and extension of the current Student Centre building as “a very ambitious programme,” but feels that the construction company appointed have the “capacity and the scale to do it.” 160 articulated lorries worth of topsoil are to be removed from the site, while a crane will be set up on the site before Christmas. O’Keeffe has described Valentine’s Day as “a milestone date” for the project, hoping that the tank for the Centre’s 50m pool will be completed by that date.
While O’Keeffe concedes that the beginning of construction has been “a long time coming,” he remains adamant that the project has proceeded as fast as it could have, citing delays due to planning restrictions which mean that “planning alone is a minimum period of four months.”
A number of other Centre-related issues are to be addressed while the new Student Centre is being built, included the arrangement of meetings to decide names for the new debating chamber, cinema and drama theatre that will all be part of the newly extended facility.
O’Keeffe has commented that “naming can often be quite contentious,” but has announced that names for the new facilities will be decided upon by students. The university’s two debating societies, LawSoc and the L&H, are due to meet in the coming weeks to agree a name for the new debating chamber. O’Keeffe feels that the usage of names for these facilities is important “to give a sense of direction,” and cited the success of the Astra Hall as an example of this.
The development of the new Student Centre is projected to cost in the region of €35 million. It is hoped that construction will be finished by April 2011, with internal fixtures being fitted during the following summer so that the centre might be ready for student use by September 2011.