The “U” at DCU

Duggan Brothers complete New Student Centre at Dublin City University

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins was joined by President of DCU Students Union Vito Moloney Burke for the Official Opening of the New €15M Student Centre, built by

Duggan Brothers. The building spans more than 5,500 sq. metres and will facilitate as many as 50,000 students over the next decade and support over 150 student clubs and societies.

The project involved the phased construction of a new-build 3-storey extension to the existing Student HUB building to provide extended student facilities, including foyer space, offices, shops, cafes and an auditorium with terraced seating, along with refurbishment works to the existing building. In addition to this the project also included associated external works, external utilities and landscaping.

The building remained operational throughout the build, with some limitations throughout the lifetime of the project. The main structure of the building included Structural Steel, Precast Concrete, High end special class in-situ – concrete finish and brick/blockwork, Cladding, Glazing/ Façade Works. The t-out element included extensive M&E, lift installation, floors, stud and glazed partitions, suspended ceilings, built in furniture and fixtures and fittings.

The New Student Centre, the ‘U’ will house a broad range of activities and support services. Core features of the centre include a student leadership and life skills centre; performing arts and cultural spaces for students and the wider community; and an entrepreneurship and innovation hub for national and international student initiatives. In addition, the new centre contains two escape pods in order to provide a social space for students with Autism. The centre will also be home to DCU student radio station, DCU FM.

Commenting at the Official Opening, DCU Student Union President; Vito Moloney Burke said: “This day marks the collective contributions of generations of DCU. Once again, we have a centre of activity that students can call home. The place will be alive with club and society life and will serve as a platform for increased student engagement. Today is a representation of what a culture of collaboration between students and the University can achieve; the legacy starts here”.

Duggan Brothers Contract’s Director, Eddie Cleary said: “We are delighted to have delivered this out- standing state-of-the-art building for both DCU and its students and look forward to seeing the future success that the building will bring”.

C&C: Was there an impact on the general public and local communities and if so, what were the mitigation measures?

The interactions between the construction site and members of public required very carefully management. Permit to work systems, co-ordination meetings, site- walks and on-going holistic review of public interactions were key to success on this front.

The site entrance was situated on a 90-degree bend, adjacent to a very busy footpath between student residences, the sports centre, the student bar and the rest of the campus. There were no periods where the footfall on campus reduced, in fact the “out-of-term” campus users were typically younger international students or users of the nearby Tennis Ireland facili- ties, that were not familiar with the construction site and in this respect increased the risk at the site en- trance at off peak times.

A carefully considered site access and traffic management plan was developed utilising multiple banksmen to marshal the deliveries, public traffic and members of the public Certain activities such as installation of 20m long steel trusses, the erection and removal of the tower crane necessitated further risk assessments, co-ordinated planning and detailed method statements, in order to mitigate all possible risks.

C&C: Does the new facility deliver a better outcome to that de ned in the client’s brief?

The overall feedback is that the new building provi- des a state-of-the-art facility for the growing student community and provides the Student Union in DCU a home befitting its status as the fulcrum of student life. We successfully allowed the design intent to be realised in the completed building due to our positive approach and commitment to fully embrace both the Design Intent and the Safety and Quality Requirements.

Our solutions to the complex phasing requirements ensured that a high-quality building that surpasses expectations was delivered for future generations of DCU students. The quality and dedication of our project team is reflected in the completed works.

C&C: What from your perspective were the distinguishing factors and major successes on the project?

Throughout the construction of this highly detailed and intricate building, Duggan Brothers used all available knowledge, experience and expertise to complete the building, ensuring that no member of the public or construction worker sustained injury during the works and that the finished product surpassed the expectations of the client and end users.

The systems employed ensured that Safety and Quality were center stage at all times. This resulted in a state-of-the-art building which has been completed to a very high standard.

C&C:What digital tools and other innovations did you use on the project, and how did these assists in delivering the project?

While not a component of of the works requirements we chose to develop a BIM Model for the purpose of coordinating all aspects of the complex structure, Mechanical & Electrical Services and the Intricate Façade. The model was developed by our in-house BIM Team using the Autodesk AEC Suite.

Overall, we embrace open and transparent technologies in order to deliver better, higher quality finished projects in a more efficient manner for the Design Team and our Clients.

The DCU “U” Building is a significant addition to the DCU Glasnevin campus and is truly the heart of student activities in DCU. The Building creates spaces for student activities, club, and societies and is a platform for student democracy, advocacy and interaction.

The transparent and open design of the building which is centred around a central auditorium space is unique and challenges the perception of what a university building should be and ought to be. It is the first in a new breed of student Union buildings, which aims to put the student experience to the fore, in the delivery of third level education.

User centred and designed to provide flexibility in use for the duration of the building’s lifecycle. The design and construction of this unique building po- sed both challenges to the designers and the construction team who worked in close collaboration to deliver a building of excellence for current and future generations of DCU students. In built form, this building embodies the stated ambition of the University, to create a student focused, transparent and modern campus buildings which strengthens DCU’s position as Ireland’s fastest growing university.

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