Bank of Ireland has secured permission for the €36 million restoration of its 220-year-old College Green building, one of Dublin’s most important historic structures.
The five-year project, the single largest investment in the building since its construction, will involve the repair and upgrading of 280 windows, 45 staircases and 20km of electrical cabling. Work will also be undertaken on the building’s 54 roofs, 80 roof lights and a combined 2.5km of roof walkways.
A number of windows dating from the original 18th-century building will be removed, restored and reinstalled and two 300-year-old tapestries hanging in the former House of Lords chamber will be cleaned and restored as part of the project.
Built to house the Irish parliament in the 18th century, the building has been home to the bank since 1803 following the Act of Union, making it one of the oldest banking halls in continuous use in the world.
While the building has been maintained and adapted for modern use over the years, many of its oldest features have been largely untouched including windowpanes that were part of the original structure.
The bank will now seek bids for a main contractor for the work, with hopes to begin before the end of this year. It has, however, already engaged conservation architects and a historic paint specialist for the project, which is its largest conservation programme since the building’s exterior stonework underwent repairs and cleaning in 1971.
The bank has also digitally mapped the interior of the historic building to create a complete three-dimensional virtual record that can be used to guide any future protection and restoration work, it said.
Despite several calls over the years for the building to be returned to State ownership, the bank has said its planned investment reinforced its commitment to retaining the College Green branch.
“College Green is part of our DNA and this investment will ensure that it continues to play a central role in the future development of Bank of Ireland and the city of Dublin,” said Susan Russell, the bank’s director of retail Ireland.
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“We will restore and conserve the historic fabric of these iconic buildings. We’re also bringing them into the 21st century with greener energy and heating systems and more spaces to serve customers and for colleagues to work from.”
The bank was “delighted to have secured planning permission” from Dublin City Council for the project, she said. “We look forward to seeing our vision for College Green realised over the coming years.”
The bank is expected to remain open during the work.
Originally constructed to designs by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce in 1728 as the first purpose-built two-chamber parliament building in the world, the building was extended by James Gandon, who added the curved screen wall and the Corinthian portico facing Trinity College in 1785. From 1792-1794 Edward Parke added a western colonnade and tetrastyle portico fronting on to Foster Place.