Education

UCD Science Centre

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UCD Science Centre

Integrating cutting-edge innovation into the existing UCD campus

By 2008, UCD emerged as Ireland’s largest science faculty, offering the broadest range of education and research programs in the science field and delivering the highest number of science graduates in Ireland. However, the 1960’s-built science complex was no longer suitable to accommodate the scientific advancements that had been made since its inception 50 years before. The decision was made to overhaul and redevelop the science district on the Belfield Campus, into a state-of-the-art facility, with the new ‘Science Centre’ at its core, capable of accommodating and generating students, graduates, researchers and staff of the highest calibre.

Linesight was engaged at the earliest of stages to manage and oversee the costs for the redevelopment of this innovative teaching, learning, and research facility. This project not only aimed to put UCD at the forefront as a science education and research facility, on a national and global scale, but also to meet national objectives as laid out in the Strategy for Science, Technology and Innovation (SSTI).

This new 41,000 sq.m. science center now offers a diverse range of programs, from biological and chemical sciences, to mathematical and computer sciences, in the most up-to-date integrated facilities, comprising teaching and research laboratories (i.e. dry, damp and wet), write-up areas, lecture theaters and classrooms, a 3D visualization theater, meeting rooms, break-out areas, galleries, and exhibition spaces.  

The approach to sustainability was a key feature for this redevelopment.  With UCD’s ongoing pursuit and commitment to reduce energy consumption, energy costs, and carbon footprint, the facility achieved a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating, the first such rating for a university building in Ireland.    

The works were phased, commencing with the Science South building and continuing onto the Science Hub and the newly built Science East building, the ‘O’Brien Centre for Science’.

This project was also the largest capital investment in education in the history of the state at the time and so, Linesight’s participation was sought for a number of key reasons:

  • Experience in complex projects with rigid timelines and budget / funding constraints

  • Domain expertise in projects undertaken within a ‘live campus’ environment

  • Reputation for robust procurement approach

In terms of services provided, we were appointed for the feasibility and master planning stages through to project completion in 2014, advising on all procurement, contractual, commercial and cost matters, including providing value engineering and lifecycle costing expertise, in what was a very difficult period for the construction industry in Ireland.

Punctilious procurement

From the early stages of the project, Linesight was on hand to provide procurement and contract advice to UCD. Because of the highly specialized nature of the project and its funding requirements, it was imperative that a high performing and capable team be assembled. A key strength that our team brought to the table was the attention to detail on matters such as EU procurement legislation, contractor / specialist sub-contractor pre-qualification, tender documentation preparation, and resource allocation.

Integrating within an existing and live campus

The team was cognisant of the constraints involved with working within a large live university campus, and the need to accurately phase the project works and cohesively incorporate them within the existing environment.   

Not only had the development to be handed over on time for the semester for which it was intended, but certain more invasive works had to be scheduled within holiday periods so as not to cause significant disruption to the university community.

Also, in sections of this redevelopment, while the original structure was maintained in part, it was married with unitized metal and glass cladding, which gave a high quality and sensitive finish, air tightness and u-value, as well as offering a cohesive aesthetic appearance with adjoining university buildings.

In addition, UCD had a long-term vision of becoming a global leader in cutting edge science education and research facilities, and it was understood that the successful integration of this facility into the overall campus was conducive to improving the university’s international performance.

Technical difficulties

This project was technically complex on a number of fronts. The supporting site infrastructure involved with such a development is extensive, and the demand on the mechanical and electrical services installations in terms of the range of laboratories with varying specialist requirements was unique. In particular, complexities were far-reaching with the upgrading of the air flow control system for the bio-medical facility, and the refurbishment of an existing laboratory into a nano-biology facility; this was completed with a specialized fit-out for vibration sensitive environments, anti-vibration plinths for atomic force microscopes, and laser tables.

Project specifics

  • Designed by RKD Architects, this was a highly complex and technologically advanced redevelopment

  • Created a state-of-the-art science education and research facility that is recognized globally

  • Offers a cutting edge facility for science students, graduates, staff, and researchers, while still accessible and appealing to a wider audience of all ages and backgrounds

  • Seamless integration into the overall campus, with minimal disruption to the university community

  • First BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rated science education / research building in Ireland

  • Final accounts agreed and signed off prior to project completions

  • Program delivery on time and on budget, on what was a highly complex project
1st 'excellent' BREEAM rated science education / research building in Ireland
41, 000 sq.m. €140m