OPERA SQUARE – STABILISING VULNERABLE BUILDINGS WORKS BEGINS
Works commence to stabilise and secure two structurally fragile Rutland Street buildings
Final key element in Opera Square enabling programme gets underway on Monday next, July 18th
Contractors will on Monday next, July 18th, commence a special works programme aimed at securing the most vulnerable of the 16 heritage protected buildings being retained on the Opera Square site.
The works on No. 8 & 9 Rutland Street are being carried out by John Sisk & Son, who were engaged by Limerick Twenty Thirty to carry out demolition and enabling works in advance of the site-wide basement contract that will commence in Q3 this year. The majority of these works are now complete, with 14 of the 16 heritage protected buildings already stabilized.
The remaining two 18th century Georgian terrace buildings pose the biggest challenge due to complex structural issues. These issues need to be addressed before commencing demolition of the 40-year-old office building adjacent to them. Together, the restored Georgian Buildings, the heritage protected Town Hall and the new build on the demolished site will form the new City Library.
Structural Engineers and conservational specialists, Punch Consulting, have developed a temporary works design solution to address the structural issues and stabilize the buildings. This will include temporary steelwork to secure the front and rear façade and works at the top floor of the building. The programme will take 8 to 10 weeks to complete and will require one of two lanes on Rutland Street to be closed to traffic.
Limerick Twenty Thirty CEO David Conway said: “Our demolition and enabling programme at Opera Square has been the biggest undertaking in Limerick in recent years and throughout that we have been extremely careful about and focused on preserving the heritage buildings. We are managing to retain 16 Georgian buildings out of 18, in accordance with our planning.
“It’s quite a delicate job, one that we are taking every precaution possible on because of the structural condition of the buildings. They have been idle for a long time, just like the other 14 we are retaining, numbers 8 and 9 are in a much more of a fragile state. Every precaution will be taken to ensure that these specialist works are carried out with the utmost care. The team endeavor to save the buildings but then must keep health and safety as the main priority.”
Limerick City and County Council Conservation Officer Tom Cassidy said: “This is one of the most complicated projects I’ve been involved in and it is really a ‘safety first’ approach. It’s a critical few weeks for these particular buildings and I’m confident, given all the time and planning that has gone into this, that we will arrive at the result we all want, but, more importantly, we will get there safely.”
Jessie Castle, Historic Buildings Consultant with JC Architects, who has also worked on the project, said: “These are two particularly fragile buildings in the stock of five Georgian structures being retained on this street alone. They require significant structural support not only because we want to retain the buildings themselves, but we cannot proceed to demolish the 1980s building beside them until they can stand independently on their own. So, what we are doing is working from the rear of the building to carefully bring down the top floor of the rear
Denise Maguire Editor of Irish Construction Industry Magazine & Plan Magazine