The OPW was delighted with the announcement that Historic Leinster House won the 2020 RIAI Architectural Award for the conservation project carried out on one of the State’s best-known buildings.
Image: Leinster House - Exterior - RIAI award 2020
Historic Leinster House
Leinster House was constructed in 1745 as the town residence of James Fitzgerald, 19th Earl of Kildare and later 1st Duke of Leinster. The RDS purchased the house in 1814 and used it as their premises until 1924 when it was sold to the government. From this time on, the house has remained at the centre of the growing Houses of the Oireachtas parliamentary estate.
Designed by Richard Castle in the Palladian style, the original building is intact with most historic fabric remaining. Safeguarding the fabric and the continued use of the 275 years old Leinster House required works in relation to floor loadings, fire protection and renewal of M&E services, to be carried out in as short a period of closure as possible.
Extensive historical research and specialist surveys including plasterwork, paint, stonework, slate lead and copper, windows and doors, were carried out prior to decanting of occupants including the Seanad Chamber in 2017.
From December 2017 to August 2019 a wrapped scaffold and over-roof segregated the building site, an elevated walkway and contractor’s compound from the Oireachtas complex which continued operations throughout the restoration period. The numerous challenges encountered as the project progressed and elements opened up were dealt with in collaboration with the contractor, specialists craft sub-contractors and suppliers. New interventions are differentiated in materials and design.
The OPW took the opportunity to restore and conserve the numerous art works and many items of historic furniture prior to the reopening of the building in September 2019.
This is a significant project for the OPW, conserving our built heritage and safeguarding a state institution.
2020 RIAI Annual Awards Jury Citation:
The conservation of the State’s best known building was an undertaking of national importance. Leading and collaborating with the team of historians, engineering consultants, contractors and crafts specialists, the architects overcame the extensive challenges they encountered in a painstaking process. The result is both a fine example of conservation, and beautiful.