TAOISEACH Micheál Martin has described UCC’s new state-of-the-art student service centre, the Hub, as “an exemplar” in terms of how sustainable buildings can be developed on campuses across the country.
Located in the heart of UCC’s main campus, the historic 170-year-old Windle medical building, previously used for training generations of doctors, has now been conserved and transformed into the Hub — a single point of contact for academic and student services, student support services, student clubs, and societies.
It also provides new flexible study, learning, teaching, and event spaces.
Speaking today at the official opening ceremony for the Hub, Mr Martin said he was struck by how the building has been reimagined as a “focal point and a centre for students and for the student experience”.
The Hub, designed by architects O’Donnell+Tuomey, is one of the most energy-efficient buildings on campus.
Mr Martin described it as an exemplar in terms of sustainability.
“I would like, and I have been discussing this with the minister for higher education and Minister Eamon Ryan… that [with] the third level institutions we should look at demonstration models like this that are exemplars of sustainable buildings into the future to help us achieve our climate-change agenda, and the reduction of emissions and buildings are going to be key to that.
“The carbon budgets that will be published shortly will set very exacting challenges for us all,” he said. “I do think we need significant demonstrations of how we can do this through certain buildings on campuses across the country and that’s something I intend to develop further with the two ministers in terms of that agenda, and this building in many ways encapsulates that.”
The Hub building has a long history and was mentioned in James Joyce’s 1916 novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as Joyce’s father studied in the building.
Today it extends over five floors and UCC has named the two top-floor rooms after the first female physicians to graduate from the university, Dr Dora Allman and Dr Lucy E Smith, who both graduated in 1898.
UCC president, Professor John O’Halloran, said the Hub combines elements of the original building with modern architecture. He described it as “a beating heart” of the campus, providing “a centralised location for student services and also provides innovative, modern spaces that support new ways of learning, creativity, and collaboration”.