11 February 2020
By Elaine Murphy
New centre streamlines services to benefit 26,000 students
One of the oldest buildings in the centre of the University College Cork (UCC) campus has been conserved and transformed, and opens today for the first time as the Hub, a new centre designed to streamline student services and support student learning.
The Hub, which extends over five floors, unites student services at a single point of contact for 26,000 undergraduate and post-graduate students and is located in the historic 170-year-old Windle Medical building, previously used for training generations of doctors.
Located adjacent to the Boole Library and the historic Quad, the Hub will be the home for a range of student support services, student clubs and societies, while also providing new flexible study, teaching and event spaces. Amongst the services to operate from the new building are the Careers Service, Disability Support Service, UCC Plus, Student Well-being, Peer Support and the Student Experience Office.
Two of the main event spaces, which overlook Cork city, have been named after the first female physicians to graduate in UCC. Dr Dora Allman and Dr Lucy E Smith both graduated from the University in 1898. Dr Dora Allman was the first female medical graduate of UCC and was the first women to be appointed as Chief Medical Officer in a Mental Hospital in Ireland and Great Britain. Lucy Smith became Cork’s first female obstetrician as well as visiting physician to Cork Women’s Prison.
A new state-of-the-art radio station has been incorporated into the Hub, while a large multi-purpose event space, the Atrium, makes up the majority of the ground floor. The old anatomy lecture theatre has been transformed into an intimate 70 seater indoor amphitheatre, while a new public space between the Hub and the Quad will allow for outdoor student and community events.
The €17.5 million Hub was financed by the European Investment Bank. The building will be the most energy-efficient on campus, and is fully accessible and is the location for the first Changing Places facility in Cork.
UCC’s medical building was mentioned in James Joyce’s seminal 1916 novel ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’, as Joyce’s father studied in the building. Professor Patrick O’Shea, President of UCC outlined the importance of protecting the heritage of the building; “In respecting our past we have created a new beating heart in our campus. The Hub is designed to benefit generations of our students and our community. By bringing our student services together under one roof, we are improving the student experience, while we hope the Hub with its unique event spaces will be a vibrant addition to the cultural capital of our region.”
The Hub was created in partnership with UCC’s students. Ben Dunlea, President of UCC Students Union, says; “Student well-being is an absolute priority for us. Key student support services are now going to be based all together in the Hub, which will only improve supports for students.”
Professor John O’Halloran, Deputy President and Registrar at UCC says; “Designed with formal and informal learning spaces on every level, the Hub will foster collaboration right in the heart of our historic campus, enhancing the delivery of academic services and student learning.”
O’Donnell+Tuomey were appointed as architects for the Hub. Mark Poland, Director of Buildings & Estates pays tribute to the project team; “The team has skilfully conserved the fabric of original heritage building and provided modern new spaces which are sympathetic to the overall environment of the university campus.”
The opening of The Hub to students helps deliver a key goal in UCC’s 2017-2022 Strategic Plan, by supporting the creation of a seamless student-centred administrative, academic and extracurricular experience.