Official opening of new Student Centre to take place on Thursday
sildenafil serif;”>At this stage in semester one, viagra students will be well accustomed to the brand new student centre on campus and its myriad of new facilities. Boasting a 50m Olympic swimming pool, medicine a state of the art gym, cinema, theatre and debating chamber, the centre has shifted the focus of campus life more towards recreation and society life, as well as providing a fresh impetus for the college’s sports and fitness side.
Though the centre has been in use since the summer months, its official launch and unveiling will take place this Thursday, November 29th, and will be attended by a host of guests from the university and beyond.
“The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, has said he would be delighted to open it, which is a tradition as Bertie Ahern opened the old Student Centre,” explained Dominic O’Keefe, Director of Student Facilities and project manager of the new complex. “We have a tour of the facility and he pulls the curtain and gives a speech, Dr. Hugh Brady will give a speech and Rachel Breslin will give a speech and it will all be over at about 12:30pm.”
The project was set in motion six years ago, and despite a number of natural setbacks in the construction process, the opening has gone relatively without incident apart from a handful of trial-and-error issues. “We’ve had a problem with the lighting in the pool,” admitted the project manager, “the original lighting that went in is not working, but we have an agreement to have that resolved. As with anything, you switch things on and some things work and some things don’t work. You anticipate that.”
Wireless internet is fully available on the ground floor, and is currently being rolled out for the upper floors including the society offices over the next couple of weeks. The Forum Bar is all that remains to be finished. O’Keefe lamented a tendering process that proved fruitless when the winning builder fell through and a new contractor had to be found, but expects the bar to be complete in May of next year.
The major differences between the old complex and the new are plain to see. “We wanted to have a debating chamber, we wanted to enhance society life and give a quality support to the bigger societies and the smaller ones too, to see where they could grow from and to,” says O’Keefe.
“I’m delighted with having an office for the St Vincent de Paul, and the LGBT. The University Observer are in an office that is three times the size of their old office, and they have a nice space there. The radio station has moved through locations over the years on campus, but now it has a very prominent location. The L&H have come home in a way, they have an office and a debating chamber and so has Lawsoc and anyone else who would like to use it. We’ve had a number of big debates in it, so that is obviously very satisfying.”
“Obviously on the sports element of it, it’s the first time we have had a swimming pool in UCD. We were the last university to get a swimming pool. Our swim team are doing very well, the water polo, canoe polo and scuba diving clubs are happy…One compliment I’ve received about it was that you’d never think you’re in UCD. So we achieved what we set out to do; created an environment removed from the banal mentality of academia, a break from academia, so for someone to say that about the aesthetics and the feel of the building when you’re using it, that’s a feather in the cap for the architect.”
Uptake of membership has taken the project manager and indeed all involved by surprise. 13,000 students and 1700 members of the public have signed up; well exceeding forecasts and ensuring that the complex is financially viable. “We’re very happy with that. We haven’t overly promoted it because they’re walking in the door, I suppose. No business can survive without marketing, so we did a lot of extensive marketing in July, August and September and we will probably do more in January to reach financial targets.”
O’Keefe has taken huge positives from the popularity of the sports and fitness facilities. “If anything, the gym has probably been too busy. For example, at 8 o’clock on the bank holiday morning there were 42 students in the gym.” Monday and Tuesday are particularly popular times for students with regard to gym use (over 1300 students pass through the gym on a Monday), with Sunday afternoons proving busy for members, particularly graduates.
“There’s a lot of negativity about student endeavour…this building kind of shows a counter argument to that is that there is a lot of positivity about student life and physical activity and engagement. Long may it continue, I suppose. You wouldn’t notice the members of the public in the gym really, because it’s predominantly used by students.”
With regard to plans for future expansion, for now there are none in place. “We have ambitions, but no plans at the moment. For now, we’ll sit back and enjoy it. In the first term, everyone was new to it, but now we’ve got over that it won’t be as stressful next year.”
By Amy Eustace