• 26 November 2019

Dublin’s history restored at Clery’s Quarter

Dublin’s bustling main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street, has been home to Clerys since the 1850’s when it became the world’s first purpose-built retail department store.

Following a devastating fire during the Easter Rising in 1916, Clerys was totally re-built, with the new store opening its doors in 1922, quickly becoming a landmark destination for shoppers in Ireland’s capital city.

Featuring a colonnaded façade similar to London’s luxurious 1909-built Selfridges building, Clerys was widely admired for its opulent full-height central atrium, open galleries, grand staircases and famous Tea Rooms. Now, after several years of careful planning, the store is set for a major refurbishment as part of the Clerys Quarter mixed-use development, which will redefine the heart of Dublin’s city centre.

Developed by Oakmount in partnership with Europa Capital and Core Capital, Clerys Quarter is spread across three buildings and comprises five diverse elements. The 60,000 ft2 historic department store will be redeveloped with the addition of Clerys rooftop bar and restaurant above, complete with breathe-taking cityscape views including the world’s tallest sculpture – The Spire – which soars into the Dublin skyline from its home nearby on O’Connell Street. Elsewhere, a new 176-bedroom boutique hotel named The Clery will added, and 92,000 ft2 of premium Grade A office space will be created at The Earl Building, with 8,500 ft2 of new food and beverage amenities at Earl Place Market completing the scheme.

Delivering Clerys Quarter will require major redevelopment, including the demolition of the existing 1970’s Earl Building, which will be replaced with a steel framed building to offer retail and café space at ground floor level with Grade A office space in the four floors above. At Clerys department store, the existing 2nd and 3rd floors will be removed and replaced with a steel framed structure, supported independently from the 1920’s frame and designed to provide two new floors of modern clear span office space, with new Clerys rooftop bar above.

Clerys new floors will be supported on additional columns placed within the original atrium perimeter and behind the original building façade, maintaining the architectural integrity of the building and delivering the space required for the new office floors. New cores will be positioned in both the atrium and at the building’s perimeter, providing stability for the retained and new structures. This will all be carried out around a temporary frame which supports the existing façade and internal structures, preventing detrimental movements and offering lateral stability to the existing frontage and lower levels throughout the construction phase. Once the new structure and cores are in place, the temporary support system will be removed to reveal the restored and redeveloped building.

The sympathetic rejuvenation of the department store also includes the full refurbishment of the Tea Rooms and ornate two-faced Clerys Clock hanging above the main entrance. Above this, an additional rooftop storey will be added to the main building, including a new domed roof and terrace. The building was extended in several phases over the last 60 years, including the addition of two floors to the rear portion of the building and a five-storey extension to one side. These will all be stripped back, with the original structure, façade and internal features retained, restored and brought back to their former glory.

Constructed from an early type of reinforced concrete frame, the original 1920’s structure is an early example of what was known as ‘ferro concrete’ and was designed and built using the ‘Hennebique’ system. Developed by French engineer Francois Hennebique in 1892, it was considered a desirable alternative to an iron or steel frame structure due to its fire-resistant properties.

Waterman were appointed by Oakmount to provide civil and structural engineering design services, working closely alongside the architect, Henry J Lyons, to maximise the potential of the redevelopment whilst preserving the historic building for future generations to enjoy. Our design carefully stripped back the layers of historic shop fit-out and modifications to allow the original structure to be revealed. Working closely with the demolition contractor, we helped develop a demolition phasing and temporary works scheme which ensured the stability and structure of the historic building will be maintained and protected throughout the development.

Richard Osborne, Waterman’s Director in Dublin, said; “We are delighted to be working on Clerys Quarter and to be centrally involved in the restoration of this iconic and much-loved historic building. We are relishing the opportunity to address the complex engineering challenges the scheme presents and are proud to be helping Oakmount deliver their vision for a new destination at Dublin’s heart.”

The highly-anticipated scheme is due to reach completion in the third quarter of 2021.

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