One of the oldest buildings at University College Cork (UCC) has opened for the first time as a state of the art, one-stop-shop for students following a multi-million euro transformation.
The Hub reopens today at UCC following a major conservation and renovation project at the historic 170-year-old Windle building, previously used for training generations of doctors.
Construction of the €17.5 million student hub, which extends across five floors, was financed by the European Investment Bank( EIB) which signed a €100m loan agreement with the university in 2016.
The Hub will now be a home to a range of student support services, clubs and societies, including the careers service, the disability support service, student well-being, peer support and the student experience office.
A new radio station has also been installed in the Hub, while a large multi-purpose event space, the Atrium, makes up the majority of the ground floor.
An old anatomy lecture theatre has also been transformed into a 70-seater indoor amphitheatre, while a new public space between the Hub and the UCC QuaD will allow for outdoor events.
Two of the main event spaces in the Hub overlooking Cork city have been named after Dr Dora Allman and Dr Lucy E Smith, the first female physicians to graduate from UCC.
Dr Dora Allman, the first woman to be appointed as chief medical officer in a mental hospital in Ireland and Great Britain, and Dr Lucy Smith, Cork’s first female obstetrician and visiting physician to Cork Women’s Prison, both graduated from the university in 1898.
The building, which is the most energy-efficient on the UCC campus, is fully accessible and includes the first Changing Places facility in Cork.
Changing Places facilities are different from standard accessible toilets, providing extra support and additional equipment for those who may need it.
UCC’s medical building was mentioned in James Joyce’s seminal 1916 novel ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ as Joyce’s father studied in the building.
Located adjacent to the Boole Library and the historic Quad, it was important for the university to protect the heritage of the Windle building, according to Professor Patrick O’Shea, UCC president.
“In respecting our past we have created a new beating heart in our campus. The Hub is designed to benefit generations of our students and our community.
By bringing our student services together under one roof, we are improving the student experience, while we hope the Hub with its unique event spaces will be a vibrant addition to the cultural capital of our region.
UCC student union president Ben Dunlea said: “Student well-being is an absolute priority for us. Key student support services are now going to be based all together in the Hub, which will only improve supports for students."
Professor John O’Halloran, deputy president and registrar at UCC, said: “Designed with formal and informal learning spaces on every level, the Hub will foster collaboration right in the heart of our historic campus, enhancing the delivery of academic services and student learning.”
O'Donnell+Tuomey were appointed as architects for the Hub. Mark Poland, director of buildings and estates with the firm said:
The team has skilfully conserved the fabric of original heritage building and provided modern new spaces which are sympathetic to the overall environment of the university campus.