Dublin City University – Albert College


Dublin City University – Albert College

Albert College was built in 1851 and is the oldest building on the campus of Dublin City University. It is also one of the most important buildings as it contains the offices of the university president, the DCU Educational Trust (and other executive offices of the university), the 1838 Club, a restaurant for staff and postgraduate research students while an adjoining extension contains laboratories for the School of Engineering which was opened in 1985. Owing to the age and importance of the building, significant restoration works were planned through several phases under a Selected Works Contracts Framework.

Felix O’Hare were awarded the prestigious €1.2m project to refurbish Albert College in 2016. The building consists of 3 storeys with a 4th floor attic level contained within the central block and is listed on the Dublin City Council Register of Protected Structures owing to the many unique architectural period features both internally and externally. Our works commenced with an initial phase of refurbishing the existing roof and windows. A second phase allowed for refurbishment of the 1st and 2nd floor levels with alterations to the internal layout to provide additional offices, meeting rooms and ancillary accommodation. Major mechanical and electrical works including a full rewire were undertaken while fire safety works involved installation of new plasterboard ceilings, fire doors a new alarm and detection system and upgrade of the existing timber first and second floor structure to achieve one-hour fire rating. A further extension providing over 1177 sq. m of space was also built to the north and east elevations providing administrative accommodation.
The proposed material alteration works were designed to have neutral impact on the fabric of the protected structure and were carried out in accordance with best conservation guidelines. The existing stone façade to the protected structure was not affected in any way by our works and other notable conservation works included protection and localised repair of the 1.3m high wainscoting on the existing stone walls with details replicated in our in-house bespoke joinery workshop which specialises in ecclesiastical and conservation joinery. We also repaired and replicated all period skirting while traditional techniques were employed to replace crumbling lime render walls.


Programme and quality were achieved throughout the project and influenced by the following factors:

  • We meticulously restored and maintained building fabric through various measures e.g. the existing pitch pine floor boards were individually numbered, carefully removed and stored for relaying in the same locations once fire upgrade works were complete. We also upgraded the heating system to provide new radiators with surface mounted or boxed in pipework thus avoiding chasing into wall and ornate plasterwork.
  • We took responsibility for the design and coordination of all mechanical and electrical works, lift installations, fire proofing specialists, primary and secondary steelwork, fitted furniture and fire doors thus reducing dramatically the scope for compensation events.
  • All work took place in a live, operationally critical building and comprehensive segregation was vital. Dust migration to occupied areas was a key challenge and we developed and agreed an integrated pedestrian, traffic management and fire escape plan with strategically located fully sealed dust and acoustic partitions with public areas checked daily for dust leakage.
  • We incorporated innovative design features where feasible to integrate new works e.g.  old lightweight partitions were replaced with 1hour fie rated glazed wall partitions thus complying with current building regulation while bringing light into the centre of the building.


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