Government today announced its support for the largest redevelopment project ever in a National Cultural Institution. The project was brought to Government by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. and is a major project under her National Cultural Institutions investment programme.
The project, at the National Concert Hall, will see the restoration and redevelopment of the historic building at the Earlsfort Terrace site. Crucially, it will deliver the expansion of stage and seating capacity of the existing auditorium while also providing much-needed universal access. The ambitious plans will see large parts of the site, many with buildings which pre-date the foundation of the State, restored and repurposed to provide for new recital and rehearsal spaces, new and restored public areas, and a new centre for Learning and Participation, among others.
The project will see the restoration and redevelopment of over 16,000m2 of the buildings at the National Concert Hall complex and the future-proofing of our National Cultural Institution for Music for generations to come.
Speaking at the announcement, the Taoiseach said:
“The landmark buildings, which house our National Cultural Institutions, need our support and, more importantly, our investment to ensure that they are sustainable, future-proofed and meet the evolving needs of the communities they serve. This redevelopment will allow the National Concert Hall to fulfil its purpose as a living space for music, for lifelong enjoyment, connection and participation in music, for all our people.”
The project will be funded by the Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D. and delivered by a partnership between the National Concert Hall and the Office of Public Works. This is a flagship project in the Minister’s programme of investments under the National Development Plan, which will see many of our much-loved National Cultural Institutions, restored, renewed and future-proofed for generations to come.
Commenting on the announcement, Minister Martin said:
“This project is a one-in a generation opportunity for our National Cultural Institutions, for all those who love the National Concert Hall, and to recognise the central role that music plays in all our lives. Not only will the project restore this unique heritage building, iconic in its own right, but it will also establish the National Concert Hall as a centre for music and performance to match any in the world.”
The project is included in the National Development Plan, the first time that an NDP has made specific provision for investment in the National Cultural Institutions in recognition of their important contribution to the cultural life of the State, the protection of our cultural heritage, and their support for individual and collective wellbeing. Day-to-day delivery of the project is being led by the National Concert Hall and the Office of Public Works as owners and custodians of the building on behalf of the State.
Recognising the importance of protecting and restoring the heritage buildings, Minister Donohoe said:
“Today’s announcement demonstrates Government’s commitment to the restoration of the National Concert Hall’s historic site. It is vital that we protect Ireland’s unique architectural legacy, while also breathing new life into buildings like this one by reimagining creative new possibilities for them.”
At today’s announcement, Maura McGrath (Chairperson) of the National Concert Hall commented:
“This investment will not only enhance the musical landscape in Ireland but inspire a new generation of music lovers. It will see the National Concert Hall become a cultural landmark for the nation, and realise our ambition to be regarded worldwide as a one of the great centres for music and a symbol of national pride for Irish people everywhere.”
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Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media
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The project is being delivered as part of the Minister’s National Cultural Institutions Investment Programme under the National Development Plan. This major project will upgrade 16,300m2 of the Earlsfort Terrace site, much of which pre-dates the foundation of the State and has, over time, seen its condition deteriorate. This project will protect and restore this heritage asset awhile also creating the necessary facilities for a much expanded National Concert Hall. Under the Public Spending Code, day-to-day delivery of the project is being led by the National Concert Hall and the OPW.
The redevelopment project will deliver the following:
- It will deliver the expansion, refurbishment and remodelling of the main auditorium, increasing the overall space by 40% to 1,500 square metres. This will be achieved by the installation of additional balconies and serviced by an extension to the rear which will provide access and services essential to the Concert Hall.
- The expansion of the auditorium will mean more people can enjoy performances, as the redevelopment will add between 150 and 225 additional seats, depending on the configuration.
- It will renovate and open up the main entrance foyer, creating a multi-functional modern space with new access to the historic marbled stairs, universal access, enhanced reception and booking offices and other services;
- It will remodel the old medical library as a new rehearsal hall for the National Symphony Orchestra. Currently they rehearse in the main auditorium, which limits the opportunities for daytime performances.
- Refurbishment of the 1865 block including the John Field room, and providing new dressing rooms, offices, canteen, library, studios and other services. This includes the refurbishment and restoration of the historic and currently vacant 1865 south range to include musicians’ facilities, performance, rehearsal and practice spaces, storage and side-stage areas;
- The project will see the repurposing of the derelict pathology building as a new learning and participation facility, as well as the development of a new 500 seat recital hall. This will allow new services and programmes to engage new audiences; and
- Refurbishment and remodelling of the iconic North East and South East Butler wings to include new musical recital facilities, new public areas and crucially, spaces to bring more music resource organisations into the National Concert Hall.
The next stage of the project will be to complete the external assurance process, a core element of the public spending code, and to commence the preparatory work for a planning application in 2023. The OPW, as architects to the project, are undertaking the design of the redevelopment.
The history of Earlsfort Terrace, where the National Concert Hall is based, dates back to 1865 when it was originally known as the Exhibition Palace and hosted the International Exhibition of Arts and Manufactures. The Exhibition Palace was later dismantled and replaced by the current structure in 1914, which housed University College Dublin. The National Concert Hall was established at Earlsfort Terrace in 1981. UCD’s medical and engineering schools left Earlsfort Terrace in 2007, setting the stage for the redevelopment of the large areas of the site.