THE FIRST phase of constuction of the new, extended Student Centre is to begin next week and will continue for the coming four months in an effort to remove all sewerage, drainage and telephone cables from the site before construction begins on the building. Initial preparation work began during the midterm break with hoardings being erected on the site near the current Student Centre and Centre Club.
While the original plans for the new Student Centre included the development of a multi-storey car park, Student Centre Manager, Dominic O’Keeffe informed The University Observer that it would be built seperately from centre. “We’ve decoupled [multi-story car parking] from this project because we are still involved in the concepts and the planning”.
The secondary development phase will begin in August when students return to begin the 2009/10 term. The construction work is to be divided into three different phases in which different companies will handle particular aspects of the construction. Mr O’Keeffe stated that this method will be used due to the size of the project and it is hoped that construction will progress quicker as a result.
There will be intermittent interference with student facilities during the construction period, according to Mr O’Keeffe, however the majority of construction will take place out of term time in an effort to minimize disruption. Acknowleding that students will experience some disruption, Mr O’Keeffe defended the construction, stating “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs.”
When the new Student Centre is opened, former students would be able to avail of its services for free for a period of three to nine months, depending on how much of the Student Centre levy they paid during its construction. Mr O’Keeffe said that the gesture would be “an acknowledgement of [the students’] contribution in the past for having such foresight and vision of a philanthropy nature.”
Mr O’Keeffe is confident that the funding for the development is safe and that construction will not be delayed. The university has provided €10 million in funding for a 50m swimming pool within the complex while the remainder is funded through the €150 student levy which is charged to UCD students alongside their annual registration fee.The building is expected to be completed by early 2011 and will include facilities which will include a cinema, dance studio and drama theatre.