The student facilities block at the London School of Economics (LSE), now called The Saw Swee Hock Student Centre (in honour of the Singapore businessman and alumnus who financially supported the development) was managed and delivered by Irish architects O’Donnell & Tuomey and it has received critical acclaim from the architectural community at home and abroad.While others in the business were struggling with economic challenges in 2009, the firm was already delivering a well-regarded development in central London, the Photographers Gallery, when it was confirmed that they were to be appointed to this prestigious project.
The architectural correspondent at the Irish Times, Frank MacDonnell, was struck by the visual impact of this angular building, tucked-in as it is in the laneways and back-alleys at the heart of London – opposite Dickens’s Old Curiosity Shop, no less and surrounded by buildings with a long-standing legally protected right to light. O’Donnell refers to the building as the “London Angle” and he describes the high-impact development as an “exceptional achievement”.
All the glazing used in the building was fabricated locally in Dublin by Diamond Glass, working closely with Joinery specialists, Gem, who appointed DG to the project on the basis that our expertise, experience and capabilities would represent a safe pair of hands for a set of particularly challenging requirements – just about every glazed unit was unique as all nine floors of the building were different.
Director Michael Kelleher describes the complexity involved “Not only was there about 700 sq.m. of exterior glazing specified, we also had to harness all our technical expertise and hands-on experience to solve a huge variety of functional demands including energy efficiency, health & safety regulations, load-bearing requirements, sound management and more!” Given the fact that the building extends to over 6000 sq. m across nine floors – two of which are below ground level – it’s no surprise that the company had to push the boundaries of innovation to deliver a successful outcome. Michael says “The architectural glazing sits within a slightly zany but stunning brickwork façade and this added two key considerations for us; we needed to manufacture units that would distribute light throughout the interior and someone needed to be able to clean them!” The company developed units in conjunction with Gem joinery that would open inwards – a creative solution that works brilliantly in practice.
Michael is confident that this project will lead to more work on significant architectural projects in Ireland “The LSE building is a showcase for the quality and functional performance of our glazing units and we’re delighted that this project has been highlighted as an example of excellence coming from the Irish architectural community. It’s an exciting time in Irish construction and we believe our products will feature in world-class buildings in Irish cities for many years to come – we’ll keep you posted!”
One recent significant development for the company has been the acquisition of assets from the liquidator of SmartGlass International. See http://www.smartglassinternational.com/ This world-class Switchable Glass supplier has a product range which perfectly complements the existing comprehensive range of glazing manufactured by Diamond Glass, consolidating the company’s position as the definitive glazing supplier in the Irish market.