The new Student Centre, currently under construction, is set to open in April 2012. Dominic O’Keefe, project manager of the complex, stated that “our dates from the builder are looking at practical completion by the end of January, with the handover of the key on March 16th.”
The €49.5 million development, which spans 120 square feet and is set to boast a 50m Olympic pool, 250-seat debating chamber and full drama theatre, has been in progress for five years.
O’Keefe admits that for larger technical student activities there will be a slight training phase as “when dealing with a brand new theatre with €400,000 worth of lighting equipment on the roof, you can’t just expect students to turn it on overnight and know how to use it.”
There have been many setbacks in the completion of the project since the referendum of April 2006, which set the venture in motion. Winter conditions last year brought all work to a complete halt for 6 weeks, as concrete could not be poured due to temperatures below four degrees Celsius.
The economic downturn saw the project managers having to deal with four receiverships of building companies, as well as several strikes and huge structural difficulties. These difficulties arose due to the complexity of the structural design, which will fully connect the new building to the current Student Centre and the Sports Centre, creating one extensive student complex.
Crunch Fitness spokesperson, Suzanne Kinsella, stated that the gym, which was to close last June, will remain open until April 30th 2012. The space Crunch now occupies in the Sports Centre is to be converted into an area to cater for the 9 martial arts clubs in UCD with the aim of freeing up the halls for increased sports training times. The new student complex will feature 850m2 of new gym space, more than twice what is currently available.
All UCD students will have free membership of the gym, pool and sports facilities while graduate students who contributed to the student levy while at UCD will be offered free 3 and 4 month memberships.
O’Keefe notes that the fundamental business of the complex is contingent on the successful interface of commercial and student activity. Sports memberships will be open to the wider public, as will facilities for private conferences and conventions, in order for the complex to maintain economic viability.
The Forum Bar, which closed in December 2010, will reopen in the New Year when the building work is complete.