News » Archived News 2007

Lord Mayor of Cork opens new extension to City Hall

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The Lord Mayor, Cllr. Michael Ahern and the City Manager, Joe Gavin, unveiled the Monolith marking the opening of the extension to City Hall in the presence of Cork City Councillors, Dignatories, Contractors and City
Council staff.

The Lord Mayor of Cork Cllr. Michael Ahern today officially opened the new €35million extension to Cork’s City Hall (Friday, 8th June 2007) in the presence of fellow elected Members of Cork City Council, City Manager, Joe Gavin, Cleary Doyle Contracting Ltd., ABK Architects, invited guests and employees.

The new extension at City Hall has created a state of the art one-stop-shop for all City Council services. A total of nine departments are now operating under the one roof at the new extension while a further four departments continue to operate out of the adjoining City Hall. The amalgamation process is now almost complete with some 350 staff based in the new extension. Future refurbishment works in the ‘old City Hall’ will ensure that the entire operation will form a central hub for City Council services with some 500 staff located at City Hall.

Speaking at the Opening, the Lord Mayor said “When the decision to extend the existing City Hall was taken, the history of the building was very much to the forefront of the project team. The idea was that the new building had to complement City Hall rather than dominate it.”   He continued “the central aim of this impressive building is to provide quality services conveniently, effectively and efficiently to the people of Cork, and they deserve no less than the best.”

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City Manager, Joe Gavin, speaking at the opening of the City Hall extension.

“It takes its place as one of the finest buildings in the city in the modern era.  It is seamlessly interconnected with the main City Hall and, though being of modern design and constructed of modern materials, is complimentary to the main building” said City Manager, Joe Gavin.  “ It symbolises the confidence and vibrancy of the city today as it undergoes a period of sustained development and extends eastwards to regenerate its historic docklands.”


Speech delivered by the Lord Mayor of Cork,  
Cllr Michael Ahern, on the occasion of the opening of the new extension to City Hall, Cork  
Friday, June 8th 2007

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Mr. Gordon Radlove M.D. Cleary Doyle Contracting Ltd., City Manager, Joe Gavin, Lord Mayor, Cllr.Michael Ahern, Bishop Colton and Lady Mayoress, Eileen Ahern at the Monolith.

City Manager, Joe Gavin, Fellow Councillors, Members of Cork City Council Management Team, Representatives of developers, Cleary Doyle Contracting Limited, Representatives of Architects ABK, Invited guests, Employees of City Council, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted as Lord Mayor of Cork to be present here this afternoon at the official opening of this extension to City Hall, and in that I choose my words carefully. It is, as I’m sure the management and project team will later attest, very clearly an extension to our existing building and seat of local government of Cork, Halla na Cathrach Chorcaí.

 As Lord Mayor I am honoured as First Citizen to attend and officiate at many functions, conferences and events for and on behalf of the city. In December last I was present at two book launches which put today’s events in context. The first was the launch of the wonderful “The Burning of Cork”, by Brendan O’Shea and Gerry White, the second a very personal memoir by Fionnuala McCurtain -McGrath, granddaughter of Tomás Mc Curtain entitled “ Remember it’s for Ireland”. Both brought into sharp relief the history and genesis of events which led to the existing City Hall being built out of reparation payments arising from the events of those troubled times. It is at times such as this I feel the hand of history in the role I am honoured to hold as Lord Mayor of this great city.

When the decision to extend the existing City Hall was taken, the history of the building was very much to the forefront of the project team. The idea was that the new building had to complement City Hall rather than dominate it. The purpose of the extension was to create office space within a building that made a strong statement, but it could not crowd out City Hall, it had to be designed sensitively so as not to compete with it. The result is this four storey building encompassing approximately 100,000 sq ft of space, clad in Carrara marble and glass, stretching from Anglesea Street to Eglinton Street. The building has already been acknowledged for its architectural merit with an award from Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and has featured in a number of major architectural publications.

The central atrium you see here stretches from the ground floor to the roof, flooding all departments with natural light. The atrium also features as part of the ‘internal street’ aspect, designed to open up the extended City Hall to regular public use, providing a through way from Eglinton Street to Angelsea Street. The City Hall’s southern facing concert hall wall has been integrated as a  design feature of the new building, visible alongside a marble stairway leading to the upper floors. The choice of carrara marble, a white marble with flecks of grey, was specifically chosen to co-exist in harmony with the limestone used in City Hall. 

Impressive as all of those facts and figures may be, it must not be forgotten that the central aim of this impressive building is to provide quality services conveniently, effectively and efficiently to the people of Cork, and they deserve no less than the best.   

The stated Mission Statement of the Council is to be a responsive and innovative local authority, central to improving the quality of life within Cork and taking the lead role in meeting the needs of our communities. With this building we have taken a giant leap to making those aims even more realisable. As the city grew and the needs of its citizens mirrored this, is was simply not possible to cater for their needs in the existing buildings and so City Council, of necessity, had to find additional space as close to City Hall as possible. While in the main it was possible to find accommodation broadly within walking distance it was clearly not ideal for people not to be able to conduct most or all of their business centrally. The building in which we now stand is the council’s solution to this problem. A total of nine departments are now operating under the one roof at the new extension, while a further four departments continue to operate out of the adjoining City Hall. The amalgamation process is now almost complete, with some 341 staff based in the new extension to City Hall. Once the necessary adjustments to the ‘old’ City Hall are complete, the entire operation will form a central hub for City Council services with some 500 staff located in total at City Hall. The offices of the Lord Mayor and elected members of Cork City Council also continue to operate out of City Hall.  it is envisaged that all cultural and political aspects of the City Council’s work will remain at the original City Hall, while the extension to the building will serve as a major centre for the council’s administrative capacity. 

In conclusion I wish to acknowledge and thank  the project team who made this dream a reality. I couldn’t hope to mention all involved but the project teams at Cleary Doyle Contracting Limited and their architects, ABK, who interpreted the brief so sympathetically and imaginatively deserve special praise.  

Among City Council staff,

  • the late Finbarr Allison who tragically is no longer with us and didn’t live to see the project brought to fruition, who worked tirelessly on the project from the start to his untimely death earlier this year.
  • His colleague John O’Riordan who picked up the ball and ran with it since assuming the role
  • Tony O’Sullivan and Kevin O’Reilly of Management Services, Corporate Affairs
  • Neil Purkiss of the City Architect’s Department
  • Pat Dunne, Facilities Manager

If you can imagine how fraught a house move is, imagine how much more complicated moving working departments and directorates with no loss of service to the public must have been. Their dedication, energy and organisational skill is unparalleled.

 I hope this building will serve the people of Cork for generations to come and congratulate all involved in this magnificent achievement.

Go raibh míle maith agaibh. 

Cllr Michael Ahern, Lord Mayor of Cork 


Address by Joe Gavin, Cork City Manager, at the Official Opening of City Hall Extension on 8th June 2007

With the growth in the range and complexity of the City Council functions the accommodation at City Hall became inadequate and the Council had to rent extra space at various locations in the City.  This arrangement was far from ideal.  It led to inefficiencies and was not very convenient for the public, the Councillors or the staff.

Four years ago we decided to build an extension on what was then a surface car park adjoining City Hall.  This would provide a civic complex where all City Council Departments could be housed on the one campus.

As we moved to build this extension we were very conscious of the jewel which we have in the main City Hall which was opened in 1936.  In the last two years we have had the magnificent stonework of City Hall professionally cleaned, we had its railings refurbished, a state of the art flood lighting system installed and its surrounding footpaths replaced with granite and limestone paving representing an overall investment of €1.5m.

President Eamonn de Valera who officially opened City Hall in 1936 said that:

“It marked a new era of progress for Cork and its people.”

W. T. Cosgrave leader of the opposition at the time said:

“The magnificent building is a credit to the City.  In design and execution it combines dignity and taste with spacious utility.”

These descriptions can justifiably be applied to this new extension being formally opened by the Lord Mayor today.  It takes its place as one of the finest buildings in the City in the modern era.  It is seamlessly interconnected with the main City Hall and, though being of modern design and constructed of modern materials, is complimentary to the main building.  It symbolises the confidence and vibrancy of the City today as it undergoes a period of sustained development and extends eastwards to regenerate its historic docklands.

Áras fíoruasal, álainn, dea cumtha isea an t-áras seo.

As in all successful undertakings the provision of this new facility had input from many contributors which I would like to acknowledge.  When the City Council decided to proceed with this project it decided to follow the design and build procedure.  Proposals were publicly invited and submissions received were independently assessed by a panel of experts.  The selection board recommended that the commission be awarded to Cleary & Doyle Contracting Limited, Wexford who had ABK Architects as part of their team.  The choice proved to be an inspired one which delivered a building of the highest standard.  Cleary & Doyle were a pleasure to work with.  They had a totally professional approach, pride in their work and a determination to deliver a top quality product.  They were ably represented on site by Rob Schunke and his team.

Their architects ABK are to be complimented on their creative design which has produced an elegant building which functions well.  It makes a statement in its own right while respecting and complimenting the City Hall.  John Parker ABK’s representative on site was at all times responsive and accommodating.

I would like to thank the City Architect Mick McDonagh and his team and in particular Neil Purkiss who was a pivotal member of the Project Team.

Our Corporate Affairs Department led and co-ordinated the development and I wish to thank Denis O’Mahony, Director of Services and his team for their outstanding input.  Preparing and securing agreement on accommodation layouts for 350 individual staff was a major undertaking which was carried out with great competence and dedication.  All 350 staff relocated over the past four weeks from a variety of offices in various parts of the City without any disruption of service to the public.  I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff involved for their co-operation and support which facilitated a very smooth transfer.

I would like to acknowledge the work of Tony O’Sullivan of Corporate Affairs who has lived with the project for the past three years and who is on personal terms with every nook and cranny of the building.  I would also like to acknowledge the work of John Flynn former Director of Services who set up the initial project structure.

Our I.T. Department did trojan work in having the new extension fully equipped before staff moved in.

Deborah Hegarty our Law Agent and Tim Healy Head of Finance brought their highly valued expertise to the legal and financial aspects of the project.

I would like to pay a special tribute to the late Finbarr Allison who played a major part in preparing the schedules of space and office layouts and in negotiating staff accommodation requirements.  The quality of his work was reflected in the level of agreement secured from staff and the satisfaction expressed by staff following the move to their new offices.  Finbarr was tragically taken from us just as he had put all of the logistics in place for the move.

The new extension to City Hall has enabled the Council to locate all of its service departments to this one campus.  It facilitates the provision of a more efficient and user friendly service for our citizens and provides better facilities for councillors and staff.  The main City Hall and this new extension will function as one entity.  With creative design the southern exterior wall of the main building has become the northern interior wall of the extension and there is direct access between both buildings on two floors.

The capital cost of the project was €35m and it has been funded by the City Council in a way which has no implications for the level of the municipal rate or service charges.

In conclusion I would like to thank the Lord Mayor and the Councillors for the support which they gave to this project from the beginning and to wish all who will work here, come to visit or to avail of our services an enjoyable experience.

Joe Gavin,
City Manager.

8th June 2007

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City Council staff and guests at the official opening of the extension

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