Southern Regional College new £35 million landmark campus in Armagh is well on track for a grand opening launch in 2020 after reaching another important construction milestone.
Conor McGeown (Project Manager – WYG), Neil Madeley (FE Estates – Department for the Economy), Ruairi Lavery (Projects Director, Southern Regional College), Mark Campbell (Contracts Director – Felix O’Hare & Co. Ltd.), Brian Doran (Chief Executive – Southern Regional College)
Key representatives, including Southern Regional College’s Chief Executive Brian Doran, Neil Madeley from Further Education Division within the Department for the Economy who are providing the funding for the project and Mark Campbell from construction lead Felix O’Hare and Co. Limited, gathered this week at the site to witness the new building reach its highest point.
Constructed on the existing Lonsdale Road site, the 14,000 square-metre campus stands 18.4 metres tall and will house an unrivalled blend of specialist accommodation designed to facilitate world class professional and technical education and training. It will also include learning facilities required for students studying at degree and postgraduate levels.
Around 200 jobs are being created within the construction phase of the project which also includes 25 apprenticeship opportunities.
Southern Regional College Chief Executive, Brian Doran, said: “I’m delighted to see for myself how quickly things have moved forward from when we were here to mark the construction work commencing last spring.
“It’s so exciting to see many very notable and visible milestones being reached on schedule, with the full steel structure now firmly in place, in addition to concrete floors, stairs and roof coverings. With internal walls now being positioned and mechanical and electrical installations under way, there’s a real momentum gathering behind the build.”
Designed by WYG Group with Kennedy Fitzgerald Architects, a key feature of the new Armagh build is the provision of innovation hubs through which students will directly engage with business and industry in real life projects.
A compelling platform for harnessing capability, focusing investment and stimulating enterprise, these new commercially-focused hubs will provide a natural fit for local businesses keen to benefit from collaborative opportunities available.
Brian Doran added: “The new Southern Regional College Armagh campus represents a major investment in dramatically improving educational and training attainment across the city and wider area and is part of our commitment to deliver first-class facilities and opportunities for everyone’s future.”
Newry-based Felix O’Hare Limited, which is spearheading the building project, has also scored a new first for Armagh by creating a ‘digital twin’ or replica of the building that details the complete makeup of the building, the “nuts and bolts” and materials used.
Building and maintaining a ‘digital twin’ or interactive online model of the Armagh campus provides both a life history of its development and a platform that can be used to maintain auditable records of its maintenance, operation and performance – all of which improves efficiency, value for money and longevity for the investment made.
Neil Madeley, from the Further Education Estates Division at the Department for the Economy, welcomed the progress.
“With clearing, demolition and enabling works complete and the full structure now firmly in place, we’re now at a really exciting phase of the project where we are starting to focus on the many more interesting aspects of the build such as the internal environment.
“This is an important and significant investment for the community in Armagh and the wider region. It confirms our commitment to provide state-of-the art facilities where Further and Higher Education can continue to transform lives and communities in a modern, skills-focused economy where careers blossom and businesses thrive.”
The campus has been carefully designed to include a modern new Learning Resource Centre, integrated student social areas and Learning Support services, in addition to specialist spaces to support practical and theory-based learning in ceramics, photography, fine art, dance, music, performing arts, hair and beauty.
Five world class construction and engineering workshops will also enhance its STEM-focused credentials. The next project milestones currently ongoing and due for completion include the new window systems, the internal walls and cladding for the external walls while all mechanical and electrical work is underway.
Already a national and international success, the new Armagh campus was recognised earlier this year as Northern Ireland’s best initiative at the UK-wide Government Opportunities (GO) Excellence in Public Procurement Awards from more than 30 finalists.
The local team behind the project also secured the global New Engineering Contract (NEC) ‘Client of the Year’ Award 2018 at a ceremony in London. NEC is endorsed by governments and industry bodies worldwide and has an unrivalled track record for assisting in delivering large-scale projects – including the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games venues.