PLANS to renovate the Newman Building have been postponed due to a downturn in the economic climate. Director of the Newman and Humanities Regeneration Project, Clíona de Bhaldraithe Marsh, explained that “it’s an extremely bad time… the priority is to look at the existing spaces [as] there were a lot of new spaces that were developed”.
Ms de Bhaldraithe Marsh stated that refurbishment of the largest lecture theatres in the building was enabled by joint financing from the university and colleges whose subjects are taught in the theatres. “The refurbishment of the buildings was financed half by the university and half by the five colleges who use the lectures theatres on a regular basis”.
Despite the lack of funding, one of the main priorities is the introduction of breakout spaces in the Newman Building. Space made available in the building when the School of Education relocated to Roebuck Hall may be developed into office or breakout space, however these plans have to finalised.
Facilities Manager for Buildings and Services, Ms Aishling Kennedy, explained that plans to introduce such
spaces aim to “make the place student friendly” while facilitating the ever-changing needs of students and staff.
Stating that it was hoped that the renovations would make the building “more environmentally friendly”, Ms Kennedy added that, “one of the important aspects is that the breakout spaces are designed for laptop uses. It won’t be a quiet space but you would be able to do group study”.
Recent renovations also include the building of storage spaces in the basement of the Newman Building, the refurbishment of the Arts Café. Ms Kennedy also spoke of the introduction of a dedicated postgraduate write-up space, stating that the university would hope to introduce a number of similar spaces if more rooms can be freed up.
Original plans to renovate the building were hinderd by the heavy use of the building during term time. “This is the most used building in the college”, stated Ms de Bhaldraithe Marsh. She explained that the University are confined to doing refurbishment work during the summer break as “it’s in constant use by evening students as well as various groups and societies right up to 10pm where the building closes”.
The scheduled renovations were planned for the Newman Building as part of the UCD Campus Development Plan 2005 – 2010 – 2015. The plan aimed to enhance the quality of campus life for students and staff and increase UCD’s rankings as one of the top universities in the world.