- Plan is part of overall strategy to relocate HR to the Tierney Building
- Cost increased by €40k in a six-week period, money to come from University Resources
- UCD Administration wants Ardmore House to be ready for late 2018
UCD is spending €340,000 to plan the refurbishment of Ardmore House, in order to relocate UCD President Andrew Deeks’ office into the historic building. The move is part of an overall strategy to move Human Resources out of its Roebuck Offices, and into the Tierney Building, ‘as part of plans to relocate HR activity to the heart of campus.’
While the Tierney Building is home to UCD’s administration, the vast majority of HR functions are carried out in Roebuck, with the main exception being finance. The Bursar’s Office is located on the first floor of Tierney, just beside the office of the Deputy President and Registrar, Mark Rogers.
The refurbishment of Ardmore House is being led by the Capital Developments Group (CDG), which has frequently discussed the project over the past eighteen months. The CDG is chaired by UCD President Andrew Deeks, and also includes Mark Rogers, and the Bursar, Gerry O’Brien.
The funding for the project was approved by the Finance, Remuneration and Asset Management Committee (FRAMC). A standing committee of the Governing Authority, FRAMC oversees UCD’s financial affairs and advises the Governing Authority on financial management issues. Chaired by Charles Coase, FRAMC members include Deeks, Rogers, and O’Brien.
FRAMC originally approved €300,000 ‘for a design team, detailed surveys and planning application for this project, with funding to come from University Resources.’ This figure came from a meeting in March 2017. Six weeks later, on the 26th of April 2017, the cost of the project had jumped up to €340,000. The refurbishment plans were attended for at the two meetings by Michael Monaghan, Vice President for Campus Development, and Tadgh Corcoran, from UCD Estate Services.
It was noted the project brief ‘envisages restoring the house in two main phases, with potential for further future extension should the need arise. The first phrase to accommodate the President’s Office will involve the restoration of the upper floors of the house and replacement of low-quality rear additions with a modern circulation and toilet core. It is proposed that this phase will also include minimum intervention at garden-level, including a strip-out of laboratory and support spaces.’
The earliest document obtained by the Tribune which details the plan is from a CDG meeting on the 29th of April 2016, which set out the project’s overall strategy. It was noted that budget costs were being prepared for the whole relocation plan. The rationale behind the Ardmore House move was later set out at a CDG meeting on the 26th of September 2016.
‘UCD wishes to raise the profile and visibility of the University through establishing a high quality and architecturally unique setting for external engagement activities at Ardmore House. Continuing the successful programme for the preservation of Period Houses, the planned restoration of Ardmore House in line with good conservation principles will provide a first-class administration and visitor engagement experiences, complemented by excellent meeting and support facilities.’
The HR relocation plan was also highlighted. It was noted that the ‘initial phase transfer of selected University activities to Ardmore House will release accommodation in the Tierney Building, acting as a crucial enabler to the subsequent relocation of Human Resource activities from Roebuck.’
At a later meeting of the CDG on the 9th of November 2016, the initial plan for refurbishing Ardmore House was set out. It was ‘proposed that poorly configured and inaccessible accommodation to the rear of the house is removed, with modest new construction to enhance fire escape access and toilet facilities.’
The agreed development principles proposed; ‘preservation of as much of the configuration and features of the original estate house as possible; minimal intervention to the existing ground floor; strip basement for a Phase 2 conversion to open plan offices and meeting room, with a new feature staircase under the current staircase.’
A design team was to be appointed for December 2016. The CDG meeting on the 15th of December noted that they were expecting the Design Team Framework, which was handling the appointment of a design team, would be returning tender information ‘over the coming weeks.’
The first mention of Ardmore House this year comes from another CDG meeting, on the 23rd of February 2017, which noted that ‘design teams fee proposals’ were due to be returned two days previously.
It was noted the ‘phased transfer of University Management Activities to Ardmore House’ may incorporate a number of elements. Phase 1 of the plan included the possibility of the refurbishment of five office and spaces at the upper first floor level, the demolition of 370 square metres at the rear across garden, ground, first and mezzanine levels, the construction of new stair, lift, kitchen and toilets at the new rear, and the stripping-out and clearance of 250sq.m garden level room and construction of weathering/seal.
Phase 2 may include the ‘refurbishment and fit-out of 250sq.m garden level office and meeting spaces, including the re-instatement of the original main staircase to garden level’, alongside ‘external landscape works.’
The group noted that ‘subject to the final project brief, design, procurement, planning consents and funding approval processes it is anticipated that Ardmore House may be occupied by late 2018.’ A ‘milestone programme’ would be presented at the next CDG meeting by the chosen design team for review. The CDG proposed to ‘advance the project to the design and planning stage, to better define the costs associated with the phased project.’ Deeks was to meet the architects once ‘initial surveys and layout studies have been completed.’
On the 26th of April, the CDG reported that RKD Architects were appointed to handle the project. They met with Deeks, Monaghan, and UCD Estate Services on the 13th of April to ‘discuss initial findings with respect to conservation constraints, potential layout configurations and architectural aesthetics.’ RKD were ‘scheduled to circulate updated drawings over the coming weeks.’ The CDG further noted that FRAMC had approved funding to advance the project to the planning and design stage.
The CDG meeting on the 7th of June recorded that RKD had presented these updated drawings at another meeting on the 15th of May. Early sketches of a renovated Ardmore House by RKD were circulated at the meeting. RKD Architects have carried out a number of major projects in UCD, including the design of the O’Brien Centre for Science and the Quinn School of Business.
Deeks, Rogers, and O’Brien were all present when the initial €300,000 funding was approved at a FRAMC meeting on the 8th of March. Conor Viscardi, then UCD Students’ Union (UCDSU) President, was also there. Only one member of FRAMC was absent when the funding was increased to €340,000 on the 26th of April.
The History of Ardmore House
Built around 1800, Ardmore House is a protected structure, and was originally known as Belview. The government bought the House and 20 acres in 1948. UCD obtained it via a land swap for the old Montrose estate in 1957. The last major works on the site were carried out around 15 years ago. A two-storey partially derelict building, which was used for storage at the rear, was demolished to make way for a new two-storey building with offices and a laboratory. Part of the render on the exterior walls started to peel off in 2013. UCD carried out minor repair works and applied a flat lime render, designed to protect the stone walls from wind and rain.
Ardmore House is now home to UCD’s Commercial, Residential and Hospitality Services, which oversees services like the Residences, CopiPrint, and UCARD. The House currently has three rooms available to rent for conferences. Two Boardrooms each have a capacity of 20 people, while the Reception Room can host 40 people. The Tribune contacted Commercial, Residential and Hospitality Services to ask whether the planned refurbishment would impact on the availability of the rooms to be rented out for events, but had not received a response at the time of going to print. UCD is yet to reply to a request for comment on the refurbishment, and its overall HR relocation strategy.
Cian Carton – Editor