Project Feature: Duggan Brothers deliver modern DCU student hub enhanced by BIM

19 Dec 2018

The new DCU Student Hub building presented Duggan Brothers with a number of challenges, not least of which was that the facility remained operational throughout the build.

The construction of the €12m over 5,500-sq m DCU Student Hub building by Duggan Brothers was carried out over several phases, which comprised the construction of a new-build three-storey extension to the original Student Hub building to provide extended student facilities, including foyer space, offices, shops, cafes and an auditorium with terraced seating, along with refurbishment works to the existing building. In addition to this, the project also included associated external works, external utilities and landscaping.

The original Student Hub building remained operational throughout the 82-week project period, with many restrictions and limitations, particularly when refurbishment works were being carried out. Elements of the new-build were required to achieve substantial completion early and accommodate vacant possession of other elements of the existing building. The works were carried out within a live university campus, with a key university access route running through the construction site and remaining operational at all times.

The main structure of the new building includes structural steel with high-end architectural finishes, high-end special class in-situ-concrete finishes, precast concrete, brick/block work, rainscreen cladding, glazing/façade works and insulated render. The fit-out included an extensive M&E, lift installation, floors, stud and glazed partitions, suspended ceilings, built-in furniture, fixtures and fittings, etc.

Eddie Cleary, Contracts Director, Duggan Brothers, says BIM was a crucial element in the successful delivery of the project. “The cutting-edge design comprises many bespoke structural, façade and internal finishing materials/systems, the design coordination of which was significantly enhanced through BIM,” he explains. “Further to this, BIM was used for the coordination of the M&E service throughout the project.”

He explains that one of the biggest challenges the project team faced was working within a building that remained operational throughout the build.

“The interface with the public was a constant challenge throughout the works. This was managed by careful coordination with the surrounding businesses and DCU Estates staff. Public safety is absolutely paramount and centre stage, particularly in the context of a challenging project at the heart of student life in one of the country’s largest universities. Furthermore, as we were building on 100% of the site footprint, there was no space for site welfare/accommodation or material storage facilities, all of which were provided some distance from the site, further elevating the risk to members of the public.”

The fact that the site was on such a busy campus also brought logistics challenges for the team. 

“Logistics on the site were particularly difficult due to the location of the building within the campus and the lack of available storage space,” explains Eddie Cleary. “This was managed, as much as possible, by arranging for materials to be delivered on a ‘just in time’ basis and the careful coordination of the storage of essential materials only on-site.”

The new ‘U’ Student Centre houses a broad range of activities and support services. Core features of the centre include a student leadership and life skills centre; performing arts and cultural spaces for students and the wider community; and an entrepreneurship and innovation hub for national and international student initiatives. Also, the new centre contains two escape pods to provide a social space for students with autism.

Eddie Cleary says that despite being a very challenging project, the end product is a very high-quality building that provides a real focal point for the student population and the larger campus. “We are delighted to have delivered this state-of-the-art building for both DCU and its students and look forward to seeing the future success that the building will bring.”





Contract Duration: 82 weeks

Contract Value: €12m

Project Size: 5,500 sq m

Client: Dublin City University

Architect: Mola Architecture

Civil/Structural and

Services Engineer: O’Connor Sutton Cronin

Quantity Surveyor: Turner & Townsend

Join the Construction Industry Federation