A project to be proud of

3 Oct , 2019  

Collen Construction was nominated for no fewer than four awards for its exemplary Scots Church project in Dublin’s Lower Abbey Street at the recent 2019 Irish Construction Excellence Awards.

The categories Collen was shortlisted in were: Commercial Building Over €10 million, Heritage or Public Building, Fitout or Refurbishment and Construction Project Manager.

Alan Barnes was the Project Manager on the job and at 38, was one of the youngest nominees at the gala awards event which took place in the Round Room of Dublin’s Mansion House on Friday, March 29 last.

“I have been with Collen Construction for 12 years and this was definitely the most challenging project I’ve worked on. It was a great project to be associated with,” Alan says.

Completed in July 2018 for client VHI Healthcare, the project involved the erection of a complex seven-storey exoskeleton steel frame around the existing church, which is a protected structure, providing new state-of-the-art office accommodation as part of an overall expansion of existing office headquarters.

The challenge for the build was how to adapt the buildings at the Scots Presbyterian Church site and make them useful again and able to accommodate contemporary uses, while maintaining as much of the historic fabric as possible and, achieving an economic commercial development to justify the cost of the restoration and adaption of the church, church hall and lecture hall structures.

Collen Construction, along with lead architects McCauley Daye O’Connell (MDO) and its other design partners, set out to construct a unique architectural building, one that would strive to achieve construction excellence for 21st century Dublin. And not only have they accomplished this, they have exceeded what the client hoped for and delivered a truly dynamic, yet functional transformative building.

As a commitment to inner-city renewal in the Abbey Street area, the church and church hall were completely refurbished and returned to full usage. The new design deliberately repositioned the office with a public entrance foyer in the existing church making it the primary public zone and entrance foyer for the building.

The design of the building uses best conservation practice which incorporates a mix of highly-insulated opaque and glass façade panels, natural ventilation through the perforated façade panels, good natural lighting, fully integrated solar panels in the roof system and a rainwater harvester.

VHI has been provided with an exceptional and unique building that has already, in its short time in operation, established itself as the heart of their campus and corporate identity.

“Every aspect of the project was a challenge,” Alan explains. “Planning and executing city centre demolition logistics; piling 210 piles next door to the Abbey Theatre; Communicating with workers about possibilities of anti-social behaviour surrounding the site and balancing the demands of a challenging build with the interests of local businesses and residents in mind.

“Also, the conservation and restoration of a 150-year-old church; building a 21st century office block that enveloped the church; managing sloped roofs with leading edges over the Luas tracks; having the client’s head office located adjacent to the site, along with challenging site access and storage issues.”

Hailing from Lucan and with no family background in construction, Alan graduated from DIT with a diploma in Construction Technology in 2002 and the University of Glamorgan, Cardiff with a Bachelor’s degree in Construction Management a year later. His first job in construction was as a junior Site Engineer with G&T Crampton’s, after which he spent 18 months in Vancouver working on a large engineering project, before moving back to Dublin in 2006 and working as a Contract Engineer with RED Civil Engineering Ltd. It was through RED Engineering that Alan joined Collen Construction as a Construction Manager / Engineer in June 2007, just as the recession was beginning to bite. Fortunately, Collen commenced a 230-unit mixed residential development in Tyrrellstown the following July which took three years to complete and saw them through the worst of the recession. Alan was appointed Project Manager in June 2012 and has since worked on prestigious projects such as Amgen (Pharmaceutical), Intel Ireland (Semiconductor) and Ferndene Nursing Home (Nursing and Medical facility).

“I was Project Manager on Collen’s scope on the renovation of Intel’s Fab 24 facility in Leixlip between 2014 and 2016, and we hope to work out there again in the near future. Collen has always enjoyed an excellent relationship with Intel,” he points out.

Alan enjoys the challenges involved with working for one of Ireland’s leading building firms. Collen Construction is a family-owned business established in 1810 with a strong reputation for building quality and excellence. The contractor has successfully tendered and negotiated projects for a range of clients, including large multinational corporations, private companies, local authorities and state authorities, and has earned a reputation for providing complex projects on time and within budget.

“They’re a great company to work for,” he enthuses. As keen cyclists, Alan and Collen Construction managing director Tommy Drumm came up with the idea of staging a charity cycle in conjunction with the Great Dublin Bike Ride in 2016. The 100km cycle has become an annual event and, with up to 60 Collen Construction staff and supply chain taking part, raising €35,000 for charity since 2016.

Located in East Wall since 1890, Collen has a proud tradition of supporting the local community and all proceeds raised were donated to three local charities – Sean O’Casey Community (Youth and Elderly), Aoibhneas (Women and Children’s Refuge Centre) and The Light House (Homeless Outreach Centre). The cycle was sponsored by PJ Personnel, Leonard Engineering, Writech, McKeon Bros, STS and KCE, while many others contributed to the fundraising.

“Our fourth annual cycle is coming up in September and we’re hoping it will be the biggest and best yet,” the affable Dubliner concludes.

Collen Construction Ltd


East Wall Road,

Dublin 3.

Telephone: +353 (0)1 8745411

Fax: +353 (0)1 8365779

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.collen.com

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, July, Vol 5 No 7