This abandoned protected structure can be found on Grangegorman Lower and situated between where the East Quad is being currently built and the Secondary School and the Student Accommodations. It was formally referred to as the Lower House but now named after the architect as Francis Johnston House. I’m not sure if this name will stick but can say FJH for short! It was the former Richmond Asylum which opened up for those with mental illnesses in 1814 and at its peak had over 2,000 patients. The building is now under the ownership of the Grangegorman Development Agency (GDA) and forms part of the Grangegorman Project to relocate all of DIT unto the campus.
It started a couple of months ago and soon after the announcement in May for the sign off for the building of the East and Central Quad. These buildings will be home to Kevin St, Cathal Brugha St and Rathmines in September 2020 for 10,000 students and several hundred staff. As a result, not everyone and everything will be accommodated within the Quads and other space on campus needed to be found. A sub-group of the overall Grangegorman Migration Project Board known as the Transitional Works was set up. The members include key stakeholders involved in the move in 2020 along with DITSU, Clubs and Societies. This move will affect students the most with loss of Gleeson Hall, common areas, the gym and swimming pool. The group would look at all those not in the Quads and how accommodation could be made for them.
Why this building
Subsequently, Francis Johnston House became available and the Sub-Group earmarked it as the place to make accommodation for all student activities. Over the last while, it has been the key area of discussion for DITSU, Clubs and Societies as we want to make sure that students don’t lose out on being able to do what they’re currently able to do now. Such as hang out during lunch in the snackery, do water activities in the pool and even yoga classes in flat rooms. We’ve been presented with various options and have had frank discussions on the proposals put forward. Our concern is that this building is seen as the ‘interim student centre’ for 10,000 students but the issue is that it could end up being for 20,000 students as Aungier St is due to move up in 2021 and there’s been no move on an actually purpose built Student Centre as the Student Accommodation project is facing numerous challenges. We do not want small and cramped facilities for students as the promise has always been that everyone wouldn’t get less than they already have with the move to Grangegorman.
It’s going to be a major project to refurbish and put it back into operation as the building is degrading but the County Council have stated to the GDA that they have a short timeframe to stabilize it and put it into use or else it’s gone. There are restrictions on what can be done with this building as it is a protected structured and a bit delicate too. This building will house most of the activities for DITSU, Clubs and Societies as well for School of Conservatory for Music and Drama. It will include a canteen, two common areas, a black box, several offices for staff and committee rooms for student clubs and society members. There’ll also be studios for light gym activities and another for dance and yoga classes. There’ll be other multi-functional spaces to use and an auditorium for events. For the Conservatory, they’ll get rooms to relocate a lot of their small practice rooms with pianos and other musical instruments from Rathmines.
We still intend to maintain Bradogue and Glassmanogue for student use as Francis Johnston House would not be sufficient space for the many society and club activities relocating to Grangegorman. In addition, we will be advocating that students have access to rooms and spaces in the Quads such as large lecture theatres for guest speakers, the performance venue, black box theatre and recital halls. In some instances at the moment students find it hard to access space and we want to ensure that this is not the case when they move to Grangegorman. We want a campus that is welcoming, fit for purpose and accessible for use by all students.
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