Sunday 16 December 2018

Historic Trinity College campus under scrutiny as plans for future development afoot

Trinity campus site
Trinity campus site
Trinity campus site
Trinity campus site

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

Every inch of space on the historic Trinity College campus is under scrutiny as the university sets out plans for its future development.

The challenge is to conserve its rich architectural heritage, while also making space for new buildings to meet the needs of a growing university and modern students.

A new Estates Strategy aims to guide the development of the 462-year-old city centre campus, and its satellite sites.

At its heart is how best to maximise use of the 17 College Green campus to deliver academic priorities and provide the best experience for students.

The Strategy report notes that student experience includes not only teaching, but also the physical infrastructure such as study and social spaces and accommodation.

Trinity Bursar and Director of Strategic Innovation at Trinity, Professor Veronica Campbell  said it was not a masterplan, rather “an approach to as to what the university should do where and how it manages what it has”.

Trinity is currently involved in €230m worth of campus development projects, including a new business school.  The Estates Strategy takes that on board, and also incorporates long- term refurbishment and conservation and a residential strategy to serve the long-term needs of staff and students.

Prof Campbell says while Trinity must optimise its legacy, it must also progress, and that required a clear understanding of the relative merits of its estate and the needs of the university.

“It requires hard choices of prioritisation or changes of habit. But these are necessary if the university is to flourish in an international context”.

Among the issues raised is the need to reduce the number of book collections held in famous main campus libraries at any one time, to allow for a better design and more reader spaces.

However, it also points to difficulties already experiences in off-site storage of Trinity’s s vast collection of books, which would have to be resolved. 

One of the other areas highlighted for consideration is  whether it is necessary to accommodate all administrative staff on the core campus

Prof Campbell notes that the College Green campus is “generally regarded as one of the most significant groups of education buildings in the world”, with two million public visitors a year.

“It is difficult to identify a more special group at any university buildings in the world, of this scale and proximity to the heart of a capital city.”

But while it had some “extraordinary historic assets”, they were expensive to maintain and relatively inflexible, while in recent decades there are some buildings of less merit had been built.

Trinity Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast said better management of space would improve connectivity across the University.

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