MORE than 100 art students will be accommodated in CIT's new city centre hub for postgraduate studies in art and design.
The first students have already moved into 46 Grand Parade after a multi-million euro upgrade transformed the iconic building.
One of the most recognisable structures on Grand Parade, no 46 was formerly home to the Cork City Club and Bank of Scotland. Set over some 13,000 ft on four floors, the building has also been the headquarters of the Legion of Mary in the Diocese of Cork.
No 46 was designed by brothers James and George Richard Pain, who were also responsible for the design of Blackrock Castle and the 19th-century redesign of Christchurch, now the Triskel.
Certus, a bank services outsourcing group, occupied the building from 2010 until 2013.
The listed building, which sits next to Nano Nagle bridge on Grand Parade overlooking the south channel of the River Lee, was snapped up by CIT for just over €1 million in late 2015, with the college pumping a further €1 million into it since.
Students from post-graduate courses at CIT's Crawford School of Art and Design are set to move into the space this week, with some already beginning work on site.
Catherine Fehily, head of CIT Crawford School of Art and Design, said that many of the students had previously been accommodated at the old government building on Sullivan's Quay.
They vacated recently after six years as owners BAM sought to move ahead with an office and hotel development.
The redesign of no 46 Grand Parade posed considerable difficulties, including damp and a leaky roof.
The old structure also had to be upgraded to meet fire and building regulations, including the installation of lifts, a second staircase and disability access.
Roughly 30 people were working on site until quite recently, with a small number still involved in putting the finishing touches on workspaces, studios and offices over the weekend.
The ground floor will include a small box gallery, viewable from outside, while a public facing exhibition space is also set to be included, though the final details have yet to be decided on.
A state-of-the-art computer lab, collaborative workspaces and wide-open studios and classrooms are included too.
Ms Fehily described the educational spaces as 'fluid'. They could be home to easels one day and lecture tables the next.
In all, some 80 full-time students will be based in the Grand Parade building, starting this week.
There will also be a floating population of about 60 students in the building throughout the year, doing short courses and weekend classes.
Ms Fehily said, "This will be a centre for post-graduate education in art and design. It won't house all the post-graduate provisions of the college because we have strong masters programmes out in Bishopstown in the department of media and communications, but everything that would normally have been in town in post-grad terms will be here.
"That includes the Professional Masters in Education, which is shared with UCC and essentially trains art teachers for secondary schools, the MA in Art Therapy, which runs in full and part-time mode, and the MA in Art and Process, which is between the Fine Art and Applied Art department."
A further two floors of students are currently based nearby on Sober Lane, while CIT is also retaining the current Sharman Crawford street campus.
Ms Fehily said, "The long-term plan is to bring all the parts of the college together on one campus, but we haven't found the right campus yet. We have about 800 students across the college in total."
She said the staff at the school were 'thrilled' with the new premises, which includes stunning views of the city centre from office space on the upper floors.
"The building gives CIT a presence in the city centre and we are thrilled to be moving in and making the most of it, using the building to its maximum capacity."