Irish Projects 2017

National Treasure reopens

The National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin has reopened to the public following a period of extensive refurbishment and modernisation of its historic wings on Merrion Square.

The multimillion-euro refurbishment project was carried out by the Office of Public Works’ Project Management Services, with architects Heneghan Peng as the Design Team Leaders. The project is co-funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, the National Gallery of Ireland, and the Office of Public Works. Central to the modernisation work has been the construction of a state-of-the-art underground energy centre housing vital services for the entire Gallery. Original nineteenth-century architectural features and spaces are revealed and majestic windows now open onto a spacious light-filled courtyard created by Heneghen Peng. This new courtyard dramatically enhances visitors’ orientation between the historic Dargan and Milltown wings. It is also the site for a dramatic sculpture, Magnus Modus, by Joseph Walsh, commissioned by the Office of Public Works on behalf of the National Gallery of Ireland under the Per Cent for Art Scheme.

The period of refurbishment allowed for an extensive survey of the Gallery’s permanent collection. More than 450 works underwent conservation and research. The most spectacular of these is Daniel Maclise’s The Marriage of Strongbow and Aoife (1854), which, after an ambitious conservation and research project, supported by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, has been preserved for future generations and returned to the elegant surrounds of the Shaw Room in the Dargan Wing.

Sean Rainbird, Director of the National Gallery of Ireland says: “We are delighted to welcome back all our visitors to enjoy the Gallery’s beautifully restored buildings on Merrion Square. We anticipate many visitors from Ireland and abroad to view our new presentation of the permanent collection and attend our exciting programme of exhibitions and public events. The refurbishment project has been a great success. We kept our doors open to the public throughout the lifetime of this project, and, remarkably, with over 80% of its galleries closed during that period, we attracted attendances of over 700,000 annually. We are indebted to our visitors for their patience and support throughout, to the Office of Public Works and design team, led by Heneghan Peng, and our parent Department of Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. This project begins a vibrant new chapter in the Gallery’s future.”

Read more in the July/August issue of Plan Magazine available on subscription email


National Library to get €10m facelift in grant funding refurbishment

The National Library is to undergo a major redevelopment having received €10m in grant funding for refurbishment.

The redevelopment will address issues facing the building on Dublin’s Kildare St, which dates from the 1890s, including measures to meet modern standards for universal access, fire prevention, health and safety, security, and environmental sustainability.

The space to be redeveloped measures 3,000sqm.

At the launch of the plans, Sandra Collins, director of the National Library, said the redevelopment of the library is a four-year project, with multiple phases impacting parts of the main building at different times.

“As Ireland’s memory-keeper, it is essential that the national collections in our care are kept safe and protected and the redevelopment works will put in place modern storage and preservation standards,” said Dr Collins.

She said the building is the home of more than 10m documents, including the largest collection of WB Yeats’s manuscripts, donations from the family of Seamus Heaney, and the first copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses.

“In making the collection safe, the person on the street doesn’t see that, they just want to know that those collections are there for the future,” Dr Collins told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio 1.

“We’re going to entirely renovate and open up our west wing. It’s a beautiful building, we’re going to have new exhibitions space, a new cafe, a new retail space and a new seminar room.”

Dr Collins said the library would be ‘business as usual’ during the renovations.

The plans for the redevelopment were unveiled by the Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys.

“The National Library currently holds a significant amount of its collection in an historic Victorian era building, which is badly in need of upgrading and modernisation,” she said.

“Appropriately, this investment programme is called ‘Reimagining the National Library’, and will help transform the library into a worldclass facility for the storage and display of our national collection, as well as enabling the library to develop its capacity as a centre for research, culture, learning and tourism.

“The quality of our cultural facilities demonstrates in a very tangible way where our societal priorities lie and are crucial in terms of ensuring Ireland is an attractive place to live, work, visit and invest and I am currently developing a capital investment programme for the culture and heritage sector as committed to under the Creative Ireland Programme.”

Irish Examiner


JJR commences on site at Gardens International Office Development in Limerick

JJ Rhatigan & Company are delighted to start work on the Gardens International Office Development project in Limerick, the first Limerick Twenty Thirty contract. The 100,000 sq. ft. office development is the first of three major projects that will transform inner city Limerick, creating 1.4 million sq. ft. of prime real estate for various uses. The contract, valued at €17.6 million, is due to be completed late 2018 and will support 150 jobs during construction.

Limerick Twenty Thirty Chairman, Denis Brosnan, noted that this project is “very important for Limerick and the wider region”. This will be the catalyst for a new era of growth for Limerick as this is the first in a wider programme that is going to transform Limerick into a dynamic living and working city capable of competing with the leading destinations in Europe for inward investment. “It’s also timely from a Brexit perspective as Limerick, with high-end projects like this, will be the best place and most competitive English speaking city in the EU for inward investment. We will have state-of-the-art space in a city that has been revitalised over the last three years or so but remains an extremely cost-effective location for operating international business in and from.” he said.

No Repro Fee
Pictured at the signing of the €17.6m contract to develop the 100,000 sq ft Gardens International office on Henry Street, Limerick were
James Godley. Munster Regional Manager JJ Rhatigan, Denis Brosnan – Chairman Limerick 2030 and Pat Daly – Interim Coo Limerick 2030.
The contract to develop ‘The Gardens’ project was signed with JJ Rhatigan & Company builders on behalf of Limerick Twenty Thirty DAC by its chairman Denis Brosnan. ​
The Gardens International Office will become the first speculative build under the Twenty Thirty programme, which overall will see over €500m worth of investment in creating state-of-the-art office, retail, residential, education and enterprise space in Limerick.
The project is due for completion in mid 2018.
Pic. Brian Arthur

Conn Murray, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council commented: “The Gardens will now trigger a new wider programme of investment in infrastructure. Limerick is rejuvenated, it is attracting a lot of international attention and now we will be able to offer what FDI and indigenous investors mostly look for – inner city locations in a vibrant city where people can work, and, indeed, live. This will be a landmark project for Limerick and in time we will look back on it as a pivotal moment for the city and region.”

The five-storey development will be suitable for a range of uses and will be Limerick’s first city centre LEED Gold certified office scheme. It has been designed to a high spec, with a modern office feel dovetailing and entirely complementing the aesthetics of an architecturally significant building considered one of Limerick’s most unique. The building will be completed with a structural glazed façade to provide a high level of environmental control within the office space, minimizing solar gain and reducing imposed air-handling energy requirements. It also includes automated fully glazed entrance doors, natural stone flooring, a turnstile security system, car parking space, cycle bays and other services.

James Godley, Regional Manager Munster, JJ Rhatigan & Company noted “our company specialises in conservation work and this is very impactful for us. As an office development, the first people who will walk through this door looking at the finished product will see a historic building tied to a new structure which in itself is very rare”.



GSA is on target to deliver its latest 400-bed student development on Mill Street this September.

The €41m development, credited to architects Reddy Architecture & Urbanism, is the next phase of an agreement between GSA and Chicago-based real estate private equity firm, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital, announced in December 2015 to invest €250 million in student accommodation in Dublin over the next five years. The opening of Uninest New Mill comes after GSA opened Broadstone Hall in 2016 and prepares to open Kavanagh Court later in the year. In total, the three residences will have contributed almost 1,000 much-needed student rooms to Dublin before the end of 2017.

Started in December 2015, Uninest New Mill is well placed for students studying at Trinity College Dublin, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, and the Dublin Institute of Technology’s (“DIT”) City Centre campus at Grangegorman. The seven story, energy efficient development will offer students a variety of en-suite cluster flat rooms and studios, as well as shops, a restaurant and an incubation hub for local businesses.

Tim Mitchell, GSA’s CEO for EMEA, said: “There has long been a severe shortage of student housing in Dublin, which is why we’ve set out on our goal of delivering accommodation for an additional 4,000 students in the city by 2020. While Ireland maintains its reputation for having some of the best academic institutions globally there will continue to be high demand for well-maintained purpose-built student accommodation from both home and international students.

“Uninest New Mill will reflect all of GSA’s evolved design and specification signatures, which include generous communal spaces, bright and welcoming student entrances, high levels of natural light in all rooms, and sector leading technologies. This flagship residence, coupled with Kavanagh Court, and our development at Broadstone Hall will go a long way in helping us achieve our ambitious 4,000 bed target.”

Martin Creedon, Managing Director of the Creedon Group and Newmarket partnership, said: “This very impressive development is the next step in the rejuvenation of Mill Street and Newmarket – a process that has already seen great success with the opening of The Teeling Whiskey Distillery. None of this would have been possible without the tireless work of GSA, who identified the potential in Mill Street, and recognised how their participation could spur on the rejuvenation the area badly needed.”

GSA has also worked hard to ensure that the scheme contributes to the local community. During development, a number of historic tanning pits have been discovered and GSA has committed to retaining all artefacts, offering them to local museums and having them displayed in publicly accessible areas once the project has been completed. During site planning there was also full consultation with local residents and the council, and discussions with universities about their needs in the city as their student populations grow.

GSA develops, manages and invests in best-in-class purpose-built student accommodation in locations proximate to world-class universities.  GSA’s portfolio of operational, in development and secured future assets totals 20,000 beds.  Operational student residences are managed under the brands Uninest and The Student Housing Company.