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US stars dominate shortlist for University College Dublin jackpot

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Only one team led by an Irish practice - and none headed by a UK firm - have made the US-dominated shortlist in the contest to remasterplan University College Dublin (UCD) 

US-based Studio Libeskind, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Steven Holl Architects, and John Ronan Architects are among the lead firms of six teams selected for the design phase of the international competition. Local practice O’Donnell + Tuomey paired with Allies and Morrison and Netherlands-based UN Studio complete the shortlist.

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 entrance to 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.

We are seeking a design that will become an icon

UCD president Andrew J Deeks said: ‘We are interested in the outstanding. In holding this competition, we are seeking a design that will become an icon for the University – representing our vision to create something extraordinary and brilliant.

‘The competition affords us a rare moment to transform the campus in a way that promotes a strong sense of community and inspires students and faculty, visitors and local innovators to explore new ways of learning and thinking.’

Competition director Malcolm Reading said: ‘The competition was very successful in drawing a global response, as well as one that was distinguished by high-quality, thoughtful submissions. We appreciate the effort that competitors made and it was a privilege to receive so many good submissions.

‘What linked the teams that rose to the top of the list was their confidence with the scale of the project; they convinced us through their submissions that they had the flair to create something exceptional.

‘The leading universities now compete across national boundaries, and University College Dublin has shown great imagination and initiative in searching globally for an outstanding design team. We look forward to seeing the teams’ masterplans and concept designs and will publish these online in the summer.’

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 and 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.

International teams will be 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; and Ann Beha, principal of Ann Beha Architects and member of the Harvard University Design Advisory Panel.

The six finalists – chosen from close to 100 entries – now have 10 weeks to draw up concept designs for the new entrance precinct and the 8,000m² Centre for Creative Design.

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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