NUI Galway is the Public’s Choice at Irish Architecture Awards 2017

The new O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance at NUI Galway
Jun 23 2017 Posted: 12:56 IST

The new O’Donoghue Centre for Theatre, Drama and Performance at NUI Galway, designed by Taylor Architects with Richard Murphy Architects, and built by local contractor Purcell Construction, has been voted Ireland’s favourite new building: it was the Public Choice in this year’s RIAI Irish Architecture Awards 2017, which are announced later today at the RIAI annual awards ceremony.

Now in their 28th year, the RIAI Irish Architecture Awards are the premier architectural awards in Ireland. The Awards recognise excellence in design and the contribution made by architecture to society for everyone’s benefit. The public choice award was a particularly large category with a shortlist of 60 houses, offices, schools and colleges, heritage locations and public spaces to choose from.

The O’Donoghue Centre building is a protected structure adjacent to the Bank of Ireland Theatre and the Bailey Allen Hall on the NUI Galway campus. Originally a bonded warehouse it had served as a munitions factory.  Its most recent use by the University was as engineering laboratories prior to the construction of the new engineering building.  The project involved the complete renovation and refurbishment of the building and provides a home for Drama, Theatre and Performance studies.   

This pioneering Centre is a 120-seat theatre space with retractable tiered seating allowing for multifunctional use and accessibility. It comprises of studio spaces, a classroom, and a workshop and rehearsal room that will have a transformative effect not only on the University’s students but on the vibrant cultural hinterland that surrounds the campus.

Speaking about the award, NUI Galway’s VP for Capital Project Keith Warnock, said: “We are delighted to receive the news that the O’Donoghue Centre is Ireland’s favourite new building. The design for the conversion of this nineteenth century industrial structure by Taylor Architects (Castlebar) and Richard Murphy Architects (Edinburgh), was crucial. The incorporation of the latest technology in the theatre space and elsewhere contrasts attractively with the solid stone walls which remind us of the building’s origins. This new state-of-the-art facility will act as a central hub for cultural innovation and creativity in the University and Galway City. The ‘Public Vote’ award adds to the growing appreciation of the physical infrastructure at NUI Galway and reaffirms our confidence in the programme of campus development we have undertaken over the last decade.”

Just recently opened by President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, the building on Earl’s Island began life as a bleach and flax mill in the 1850s. It was then converted into a jute factory, became a bonded warehouse, a factory for making cannon shells during World War I and was occupied by the 6th Dragoon Guards and the 17th Lancers during the War of Independence. In 1935 it became Irish Metal Industries and was officially opened by Seán Lemass, then Minister for Industry and Commerce, on July 22 1935.

The Centre recognises the generous philanthropic support of Galway businessman, Dr Donagh O’Donoghue who began his association with the University after he completed both Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Commerce degrees in the 1960s.

Professor Patrick Lonergan, Director of the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway, said: “As a resident of this fine structure we are thrilled to hear this news about the award and thrilled for incoming drama students who will get to study and perform in Ireland’s favourite building! This Centre has opened at a time when governments are beginning to understand the essential role of creativity in the wellbeing of their nations – and not only in the cultural sphere. There is growing evidence that creative arts contribute to our communities’ wellbeing, including our mental and physical health. And we’re also seeing evidence that business leaders recognise the importance of creativity as a key skill.”

The award also adds to the accolades of the University in this particular public choice award having also taken the plaudits in 2012 for new Engineering Building.

For further course information at the O’Donoghue Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance visit: 


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