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Stars unveil rival University College Dublin proposals

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Studio Libeskind are among the predominantly US-based finalists revealing their competing visions for University College Dublin (UCD)

O’Donnell + Tuomey is the only Irish architect on the shortlist, which also includes New York-based Steven Holl Architects, Chicago’s John Ronan Architects and Amsterdam-based UN Studio. All their proposals have been published in an online exhibition.

The two-stage competition, organised by Malcolm Reading Consultants, will select an integrated multidisciplinary team to create a £42 million Centre for Creative Design and remasterplan the UCD campus.

The Future Campus project aims to deliver ‘exemplary’ 21st-century facilities for students and staff and raise the profile of the university locally and internationally. The new 8,000m² building will feature interdisciplinary and collaborative spaces while the 24ha masterplan is expected to open up around 335,000m² of new development on the campus.

UCD president Andrew J Deeks said: ‘This is an exciting, energising moment for University College Dublin. We now have six possible futures for our campus centre-stage, and all from acclaimed international teams, who are creating the most interesting and iconic architecture today.

‘We are seeking comments on the design proposals from the UCD community, and their feedback will be of interest to the jury, who face the absorbing task of analysing the schemes and interviewing the teams. This is such an important project; the jury’s choice will shape the identity of the university over the coming decades and allow UCD to realise the potential of its exceptional campus.’

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: ‘In commissioning an international competition, UCD has demonstrated its commitment to design excellence and confirmed its receptiveness to talent, ingenuity and imagination – as shown in the designs revealed today.

‘As universities increasingly compete across national boundaries to attract gifted students and researchers, the range of facilities and the quality of experience they provide become ever-more important. Through this competition, UCD has expressed an ambitious vision for the future and moved closer to achieving it.’

UCD is located on a wooded 133ha campus close to Dublin’s city centre, and has more than 33,000 students. Its campus features a mid-20th century core designed by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert. A new Confucius Institute for Ireland, designed by Robin Lee, is due to open later this year.

The new Centre for Creative Design will feature design studios, laboratories and workshop spaces intended to promote interdisciplinary learning and collaborations between business and academia.

The first round of the competition invited expressions of interest from creative integrated multidisciplinary teams organised under a lead consultant and including expertise in architecture, masterplanning, urban design, landscape, sustainability, engineering and transport planning.

The shortlist was announced in April. Almost 100 teams from 28 countries applied to the contest.

International teams were required to team up with a local executive team during the second stage. All finalists will receive an honorarium of around £35,000 once the competition concludes.

Judges include Deeks; David Adjaye; Paul Thompson, rector of London’s Royal College of Art; Hugh Campbell, UCD professor of architecture; and Ann Beha, principal of Ann Beha Architects and member of the Harvard University Design Advisory Panel.

A winner will be announced in August. 

The shortlist

  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro (USA) with Sasaki, Scott Tallon Walker Architects, GROSS. MAX., Atelier Ten, Arup, IN2 Engineering Design Partnership and Linesight
  • John Ronan Architects (USA) with Arup, CLUAA, Michael Boucher Landscape Architecture and Transsolar
  • O’Donnell + Tuomey (Ireland) with Allies and Morrison, Arup, Hargreaves Associates, Superposition, Plattenbau Studio, Phil Jones Associates, Max Fordham and MLM Group
  • Steven Holl Architects (USA) with Brightspot Strategy, Arup, HarrisonStevens and Transsolar
  • Studio Libeskind (USA) with BDP, !melk, NRB and Dcon
  • UN Studio (The Netherlands) with Arup and REDscape Landscape & Urbanism
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