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Award-winning architects appointed for fit-out of Galway’s new City Hall


From this week's Galway City Tribune

From this week's Galway City Tribune

Award-winning architects appointed for fit-out of Galway’s new City Hall Award-winning architects appointed for fit-out of Galway’s new City Hall

Multiple award-winning architects based in Dublin and Cork have won the contract to design Galway City Council’s new €56 million headquarters at Crown Square.

Henry J Lyons Architects was successful in the tender competition to procure an ‘integrated design team’ to fit-out the new offices in Mervue.

The company has designed Ireland House in Tokyo – the Irish Embassy in Japan on behalf of the Department of Foreign Affairs, which is currently under construction.

It has also designed Clery’s Quarter on O’Connell Street; the Central Bank of Ireland at Dublin’s Docklands; and Limerick’s Prison for Women.

They are currently designing new civic offices for Monaghan County Council and were involved in the design of four-storey Clare County Council in Ennis.

They will work with another private company – AECOM – an infrastructure consultancy, which was previously appointed as ‘project managers’ of the City Hall relocation.

The City Council also employs at least three people on its “in-house Crown Square project team”.

This includes a ‘change management co-ordinator’, executive engineer, and assistant staff officer.

In 2022, the City Council borrowed €45.5m from the State’s Housing Finance Agency to finance the cost of buying a shell of a building and car parking spaces from JJ Rhatigan.

The then Chief Executive of the Council Brendan McGrath said a further €11m from the local authority’s own resources would be needed for fit-out of its interior.

The original plan was for staff of City Hall on College Road to have relocated to Crown Square by December 2023, but it was now at least a year behind schedule.

Conor Dowd, an Independent Local Election candidate in City East, said he wanted councillors to ensure the project does not go over-budget, too.

“Under current protocol, the drawing down of loans needs approval from the elected members. We know the cost of purchasing Crown Square was €45m and that councillors voted 17-1 to approve the loan.

“The cost of fitting out the offices could yet prove to exceed the previous €11m estimate, and so an updated estimate should be presented to the elected members of Galway City Council for consideration as soon as possible,” Mr Dowd said.

According to staff briefings – released to Mr Dowd under Freedom of Information (FOI) – the Crown Square Project Team has visited four counties to view local authority offices.

The visits by the so-called ‘End User Working Group’ included tours of Clare County Council, Meath County Council, Kildare County Council, and Roscommon County Council.

“At these visits, we had the opportunity to tour these buildings and observe how they operate on a day-to-day basis.

“It was also an opportunity to talk to our colleagues in other local authorities about their experiences of designing and moving into a new civic office,” the memos to staff said.

Some staff have privately expressed reluctance to move from College Road, particularly those who travel to work on public transport and who walk from Ceannt Station to City Hall.

In an update to councillors, Interim Chief Executive Patricia Philbin said: “We will continue to work with our key stakeholder groups and keep them updated as the project progresses”.

Damien Reddington, Climate Action Co-Ordinator at Galway City Council, confirmed to Cllr Niall McNelis at the latest meeting, that the new Crown Square building would be more energy efficient than the existing offices, although it was unclear if that factored in individuals’ private transport to the new offices.

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