UL medical school building in line for award

Fintan Walsh

Reporter:

Fintan Walsh

Shortlisted: UL's Medical School is one of six nominees for the international RIBA Stirling Prize
THE University of Limerick’s Medical School, which was completed in September 2012, has been shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stirling award for its excellence in architecture.

THE University of Limerick’s Medical School, which was completed in September 2012, has been shortlisted for the prestigious RIBA Stirling award for its excellence in architecture.

The 9,900 square metre construction, which cost €1,400 per square metre, according to the Royal Institute of British Architects, was one of six projects to be shortlisted in the UK and Ireland.

Dublin-based Grafton Architects, who also designed the President’s House at the university, said the project had already received an award from RIBA, which then led them to the shortlist.

“We submitted the project for an RIBA award and we were told some time ago that we had received an RIBA award for the project. And then what they do is the jury put together a shortlist for the Stirling prize, and that’s what they have just done. Effectively, it is two stages. The first is to get an award, which is brilliant in itself. And the second is, from that, we are shortlisted for the Stirling prize,” co-founder Shelley McNamara said.

Ms McNamara told the Leader that the University of Limerick was an ideal institution to work with and that it was the first time they were nominated for the Stirling Prize, which is open to all RIBA members in the EU.

“The project is one of the finer moments in our portfolio of work because it was a very important project for us and it was a very important opportunity for us to make a building like that in the University of Limerick.

“First of all, to work with that university, they are fantastic clients and have amazing vision for education and facilities that will survive for their students. Secondly, we’ve never been shortlisted for the Stirling prize before,” she added.

A UL spokesperson said everyone at the university was “thrilled” with the result and that it was a great surprise to be considered for such a prestigious award. She said she always saw the three-storey, blue limestone building as surreal.

“Every time we have taken a photo outside the building, it almost looks fake. But it’s because it just comes out really sharply.

“We take the responsibility of maintaining this public campus very seriously. We have always provided the high standard of the upkeep of the building,” she commented.

In the RIBA judges’ report, they said the Medical School “transforms simple teaching and study spaces into rich, theatrical spaces, with a generosity that verges on the heroic” and that the bus pergola, outside, is “place-making of the first order” with its “dramatic entrance” to the Pavilion restaurant.

The winner of the Stirling Prize will be announced on September 26, at Central Saint Martin’s, King’s Cross.