Closing in on 35 years

5 Sep , 2019  

Founded by Jack Coughlan in 1985, JCA Architects is today an established multi-disciplinary architectural practice with offices in Cork City and Dunboyne, Co Meath. Building Ireland learned more from one of the company’s four directors, Gareth O’Callaghan, recently.

Business is thriving at present at JCA Architects and the plan is to try and keep things that way, according to a quarter of the company’s directorship, Gareth O’Callaghan.

Set-up 34 years ago, the company is an architectural practice producing contemporary designs which has expanded to incorporate the disciplines of architectural conservation, retail and passive house design.

This past March saw the firm nominated for a national accolade at the Irish Construction Excellence Awards in Dublin’s Mansion House.

Building Ireland learned more about the nomination and all about the business itself from Gareth O’Callaghan recently.

“We’re a general architectural practice which specialises in conservation and retail,” explained Gareth.

“The three other directors here are Jack Coughlan, Pat Thomas and Haroldo Oliveira and altogether the company employs 34 staff members.

“We’re also a registered RIAI Architectural Practice and an RIAI accredited Conservation Practice Grade 1.”

Having earned his degree from UCD in 1994, Gareth is now part of the team at JCA Architects an even two decades now.

In that time, he has gained invaluable experience while also rising up the ranks to become Director of Conservation.

JCA Architects is, after all, an award-winning RIAI Grade 1 Conservation Practice which has developed a wide range of experience in various areas of conservation and provides an exceptionally high level of expertise within the practice.

A fundamental first step is the understanding of the building. Once achieved, the company can approach a design or intervention with confidence, based on many years of conservation experience in combination with the ethos of contemporary design that the practice is committed to.

Indeed, the strength of JCA Architects has been found to be a combination of conservation with a contemporary intervention.

“It has been busier than ever the first couple of months of this year, particularly in conservation,” said Gareth.

“We just completed conservation work on St Patrick’s Bridge in Cork City, as well as in Holy Trinity in Cork and Cobh Cathedral – the latter project would have been cleaning and conservation.

“In Europe, we’ve recently had project work in both Toulouse and Dusseldorf.”

JCA Architects’ projects have always established the credibility of the company’s design philosophy, which are contemporary, appropriate, sensitive, functional, sustainable and economical.

Much of the criteria can only be fully tested by interaction with the end-user. As the client’s role has a major influence on the design outcome, the management of that relationship has always been critical for JCA Architects.

The company has a very strong track record where, for an architectural practice, it has a significant amount of repeat business with its clients.

According to Gareth, repeat business has been a crucial factor in the success of the business over almost three-and-a-half decades.

“We’d like to think that we have developed specific expertise when it comes to conservation in retail,” he stated.

“We’ve established strong working relationships over the years with local authorities like the Cork City Council and Cork County Council, and also with larger construction companies such as BAM.”

To this day, retail remains one area where JCA Architects has established a strong client relationship over a decade, with repeat projects in Ireland, Germany, Holland, Austria and Belgium.

This body of work has resulted in the firm building up a wide base of experience and expertise in the ever changing retail design field.

The company’s work in Europe is undertaken in collaboration with local partners, design team colleagues, contractors and specialist sub-contractors and carried out by teams led by a Project Director who has hands on delivery of the project.

Last year saw JCA Architects involved in the full refurbishment of the 1839 build old Cork Savings Building for UCC Business School.

Located at 1 Lapps Quay and 16 Parnell Place, the project included the demolition of existing modern built outbuildings which was to be followed by the construction of a three-storey steel frame extension.

Gareth was the Lead Architect on the project, with Summerhill Construction Co Ltd the contractors.

The €3million project which was officially completed last December was nominated at the Irish Construction Awards in the Fit-Out or Refurbishment category at the end of March.

Despite missing out on award on the night at Dublin’s Mansion House on March 29th, Gareth still considered it an honour to be nominated and hopes for chances to add more accolades in years to come.

The award-winning projects the company has been involved in in recent years can be viewed within the projects’ section of its excellent website (www.jca.ie).

Nearly 35 years on, JCA Architects remains a vibrant practice with a broad skill base comprising architects, project managers, architectural conservation consultants, architectural technologists and graphic artists with supporting administration providing a comprehensive and rapid design and execution process.

The company’s commitment to sustainability includes appropriate site planning, selection of Green Rated materials, careful design of the building envelope, passive and active energy conservation and generation, use of renewable energy sources, optimising natural ventilation and daylight, water conservation and harvesting, air tightness testing and thermal imaging of buildings.

JCA Architects Ltd

Cork office:

21 Sunday’s Well Road,


Tel: (0)21 4393800

E-mail: [email protected]

Meath office:

St. Albert’s House,

Navan Road,


Co. Meath

Tel: (0)1 802 6881

Taken from Building Ireland Magazine, June, Vol 5 No 6