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Announcement Awards

Steven Holl Architects wins UCD’s Future Campus Competition


UCD & Malcolm Reading Consultants (MRC) announce that the team led by acclaimed New York and Beijing-based studio Steven Holl Architects (SHA) has won the Future Campus – University College Dublin International Design Competition.

Jury Chair praises US-led team for their exhilarating Centre for Creative Design and a masterplan that features seven new quadrangles designed around historic features and woodland

The international jury – which included Sir David Adjaye, Principal, Adjaye Associates; Ann Beha, Principal, Ann Beha Architects and Member, Harvard University Design Advisory Panel; acclaimed urban planner Joe Berridge, Partner, Urban Strategies, Inc.; Dermot Desmond, Chairman, International Investment & Underwriting; Sean Mulryan, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Ballymore; and Dr Paul Thompson, Vice-Chancellor, Royal College of Art, London amongst other distinguished figures − was hugely impressed by SHA’s design proposal for a Centre for Creative Design and Entrance Precinct Masterplan vision for a circa 24 ha area of the overall campus.

Holl’s placemaking strategy focuses on creating an exhilarating Centre for Creative Design as a gateway presence which cues to seven new quadrangles of open green space, designed to enhance the campus’ historic features and woodlands. A new pedestrian spine, parallel to the campus’ original spine, creates an H-plan organisation, lined with weather canopies that double as solar connectors, forming the infrastructure of an energy network. Cafés and social spaces are located along paths for informal gathering; landscape spaces are animated by water-retention ponds, rain- and wind-protected seating areas and preserved specimen trees.

The Centre, set by a plaza and a reflecting pool, displays prismatic forms inspired by the geology of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Giant’s Causeway. It features abundant use of natural light, which is captured by two vertical structures angled at 23 degrees, mirroring the earth’s tilt. The auditorium echoes the shape of UCD’s iconic dodecahedral 1972 water tower; the Centre’s towers respond to the water tower’s pentagonal pillar.

The Centre is intended to encourage creative collaboration and interaction with a ‘circuit of social connection’ that allows students, faculty and visitors to peer into maker and classroom spaces through glass walls but also respects deep creativity by providing spaces for concentration and silence.

The winning team’s design proposals can be seen on the competition website


 Steven Holl, Founder, Steven Holl Architects, said:

“We are very honored to win. It’s a very important and inspiring project for Steven Holl Architects and we look forward to working with UCD.

Steven Holl Architects (SHA) has assembled an internationally acclaimed team with local partners Kavanagh Tuite Architects; industry-leading engineers Arup; innovative strategists Brightspot Strategy; award-winning climate engineering firm Transsolar; and creative, sustainable landscape architects HarrisonStevens.

SHA is an innovative architecture and urban design office with extensive experience in the arts, educational and residential sectors and with offices in New York City and Beijing. Founder Steven Holl was named by Time Magazine in the early 2000s as America’s Best Architect, for “buildings that satisfy the spirit as well as the eye”. His most famous building is the much-celebrated addition to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri; his extensive awards include the Praemium Imperiale Award, the AIA Gold Medal and the Alvar Aalto Medal. Highlights of the practice’s portfolio of outstanding university buildings include the Lewis Arts Complex, Princeton University; Visual Arts Building, University of Iowa; the Reid Building, the Glasgow School of Art; Simmons Hall at MIT; and the Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University.



The jury praised all the finalists for their hard work and commitment and awarded a special commendation to the team led by John Ronan Architects for “a masterplan of great clarity that was beautifully thought through and a Centre for Creative Design that had gravitas and a gentle, rational strength”.

The four other finalists comprised, Diller Scofidio + Renfro (US), O’Donnell + Tuomey (Ireland), Studio Libeskind (US) and UNStudio (Netherlands). The original shortlist was expanded from the expected five to six in recognition of the outstanding response from the international design community.

Project background

UCD’s main campus, known as the Belfield Campus, is located just four km from Dublin city centre and is notably green and expansive. The first campus masterplan was conceived by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert, the winner of a competition held by UCD in 1963. UCD benefits from a parkland and wooded campus, 133 ha in total, which is close to Dublin’s city centre. The campus has a serious architectural pedigree with a mid-20th-century core that was designed by Polish architect Andrzej Wejchert, and world-leading facilities include the UCD O’Brien Centre for Science, UCD Sutherland School of Law, UCD Lochlann Quinn School of Business and the James Joyce Library. UCD’s new Confucius Institute for Ireland is due to open in September this year.  Today, the campus covers 133 ha and contains over eight km of woodland walks, some of which are flanked by mature trees that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries.


UCD Future Campus Competition Winner