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McCarthy O’Hora triumphs in race for Portlaoise library

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McCarthy O’Hora and Associates has won a publically tendered commission for a new £2.35 million library in Portlaoise

The local studio was chosen ahead of eight unnamed rival bidders for the Laois County Council-backed £200,000 contract.

Expected to complete in 2017, the project will create a new 1,500m² central branch library and local studies centre on the main street of the historic county town.

Planned facilities include an ICT room, staff offices, events area and an exhibition space.

McCarthy O’Hora’s winning design features a series of interconnecting rooms lined with bookcases, reading desks and galleries.

A statement from the practice said: ’The rooms are single height and double height spaces which provide a mixture of public meeting rooms, exhibition areas and study spaces. This combination of calm study areas counterpointed by animated public spaces is central to the character we would like to create for the proposed library.’

The external façade has meanwhile been designed to deliver a ’subtle alteration and reinstatement of the historic streetscape’, according to the studio.

The statement continued: ’The existing pediment which holds the corner between Main Street and Church Avenue is retained, its prominence is reinforced by the addition of two new columns. The proposed library roof structure is visible on the external façade as a series of triglyph-like roof trusses, this intervention acts to frame the proposed roof structure and creates a modern entablature which will reinforce the retained façade and act to complement the retained pediment.’

The local authority purchased the site at 52-53 Main Street – formerly home of Shaws Department Store – for around £350,000 in 2013.

McCarthy O’Hora’s appointment comes seven years after the practice converted a former convent in Birr into a new library and offices.

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