RENOVATIONS of the UCD Science Building are expected to cost an estimated €130 million over the next ten years. The development is partly funded by the state-run Programme for Research in Third-Level Institutions (PRTLI) and it is hoped that the renovations will attract prospective students to UCD and in turn, increase the number of science graduates, in addition to making the Science Building the focal point of the university.
Head of Buildings and Services, Aidan Grannell, said that the aim is to make the building “more attractive to students who want to study science” and that “the ultimate objective for the state presently… is to double the number of Ph.Ds coming out of universities.”
Mr Grannell admitted that the university had to take the current economic climate into consideration before proceeding with the construction, but argued that “there were plenty of periods since UCD started back in 150 years ago… where there were recessions and boom periods and work still went on.”
“There are other mechanisms of funding such as the university’s own philanthropic campaign,” said Mr Grannell. “You’re looking at money from our own resources, from UCD’s own resources [and] you’re looking at funding coming in from research.”
Mr Grannell believed that the buildings “are well in need of refurbishment”. He stated that the building, once finished, will feature state of the art laboratories, research facilities and undergraduate teaching facilities. It is hoped that the size of science centres north and west will eventually be increased from the current 32,000 to 67,000 square metres. Mr Grannell expressed his concern in relation to a “shortage of student [social] spaces in all the buildings” and hopes to provide more communal areas for students with the expansion.
Mr Grannell recognised the fact that there would be some disruption while refurbishments are ongoing, saying that “unfortunately you are going to have a certain amount of noise associated with the works”. He stated that the work would be done during the summer period, where possible, in order to limit any inconveniences caused.
The current developments have so far, yet to impinge on students’ study and coursework. First year Science student, Ed Cox, said that “other than the odd drill every now and again, there’s nothing that I can really complain about.” However, he feels that there is a need for more student spaces adding that “I think on some levels, [in the Science Building] there isn’t a clear place to congregate”.
Another first year Science student, Gavin Hillick, agreed saying, “I don’t think there’s enough places to relax in the Science Block… I go to the Newman Building if I want to hang around for an hour or two.” He was also unaffected by the refurbishments saying “I haven’t noticed any renovations except for the first couple of weeks.”