Two major upgrading projects at the Law Society’s grounds in Blackhall Place will add significantly to the student-user experience, as well as beautifying the campus.
The two schemes are running concurrently in order to minimise disruption.
The new ‘Academic Street’ and sports pavilion have been designed by Dublin architects Howley Hayes who have consulted on upgrades to the campus since 2005. The firm has been involved in a range of refurbishment and adaptive re-use projects, as well as providing conservation advice.
Academic Street is on the south (library) side of the building, connecting the Education Centre and the Green Hall. Its current industrial-style appearance will be beautified under the new plans with the removal of unsightly fire escapes, improved disability access, and a new entrance to both the library and the Vanilla Café.
The planned upgrade will provide significant congregation amenities for students in the form of seating, outdoor tables and informal benches and plinths, all availing of the sunny southern aspect. The changes will make the Vanilla Café more usable as an events space. The design will also provide a cohesive link between the different educational buildings and facilities.
The sports pavilion is to be situated on the south-west corner of the Law Society site, adjoining Collins’ Barracks. Currently under-used, the upgrade will deliver ‘home’ and ‘away’ changing rooms and showers, and a viewing balcony over the tennis courts, new five-a-side playing area, and the main soccer pitch.
It is expected that the five-a-side facility will get extensive use, along with the refurbished tennis courts. The new design will mean a squaring-off of the whole sports area and the completion of the recently restored walkway around the grounds. Storage facilities for goalposts will also improve the appearance of the green area.
The new pavilion will house a small weights room and a purpose-built yoga space. The stonework around the large library window will be restored as part of these works.
Also on the cards for next year is the remodelling of the library. This will incorporate better light, and more seating and shelving space, with several architectural options currently under review. Improved storage facilities for the Presidents’ Hall and extended granite cobbling at the front gates are also under consideration.
The Blackhall Place campus – formerly known as the Blue Coat School – was designed by Thomas Ivory in 1770 and built on the site of the historic Oxmantown Green. It is regarded as one of the finest 18th-century buildings in Dublin.