Trinity College Dublin has been granted permission for a €70 million business school on the Pearse Street side of its campus.
The development will include the regeneration of protected structures the university previously wanted to demolish.
Dublin City Council has approved the plans to construct a new six-storey building housing a 600seat auditorium and 140-seat lecture theatre and other business faculty facilities, and to refurbish six Victorian houses on Pearse Street for use as student apartments and a 200-seat cafe .
The university hopes to start construction in the coming months and is aiming for a completion date of September 2018.
The Luce Hall sports block, which dates from the 1970s, and the 1990s Simon Perry engineering building, as well as some workshops and toilets to the rear of the Pearse Street houses, will be demolished to make way for the new building. It will have entrances onto Pearse Street as well as internally, facing the campus rugby pitch.
Arguably the greatest civic benefit of the project will be the restoration and reuse of numbers 183 to 188 Pearse Street, six three-storey terraced buildings dating from around 1825, which were built with ground floor shops and residential accommodation on the two upper storeys.
In recent decades, the college had bricked up these buildings and other historic shop fronts along the street, presenting a bleak and lifeless frontage along much of the southside of Pearse Street to west of the overhead railway line.
Trinity has in the past defended its treatment of Pearse Street, saying its decline as a shopping street had much to do with the constant heavy traffic, the lack of parking and safe set-down facilities for would-be shoppers, and unpleasant environment for pedestrians. As a result, it said business people who held leases from Trinity gradually surrendered them because they no longer saw their businesses as viable in that environment.
Earlier plans had sought the demolition of the terrace, with a 2011 scheme proposing the relocation of the shop fronts to further up the street, but these were refused.
The demolition of Luce Hall had been granted in earlier planning applications.
The new scheme for Pearse Street will not see the reinstatement of shops along the ground floor of the six buildings. Instead they will be opened up for a cafe. Student accommodation will be located on the first and second floors encompassing six apartments each with four bedrooms, three singles and one double. These apartments will be for “advanced, executive-level students, rather than the undergraduate-level students” the college said.
The council’s conservation department supported the reuse of the historic buildings. It said while the college “has long been associated with the demise of Pearse Street”, there was “obvious conservation gain” of the re-use of “down at heel protected structures that also includes a more lively ground floor use featuring student dining rooms at street level”.
The new business complex will will open out onto Pearse Street just west of the railway line. This section is currently railed off, showing only the concrete back end of of Luce Hall.
The new building, which will be almost 12,000 sqm in size, will house a 600-seat auditorium, a smaller auditorium , a 140-seat lecture theatre and several smaller lecture halls. There will also be an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, which will provide incubator space and offices for businesses, to encourage links between students, faculty members and the business community. A roof garden will be located on the top floor along with a “small hot desk office for the Provost”.
The business school project is part of a €295 million capital investment plan, outlined in the college’s 2014-19 Strategic Plan. The European Investment Bank recently approved a €70 million loan to Trinity College, which will be part used to fund the new school, but private donors are also providing monies.