Belfield House was originally built in 1801 by Ambrose Moore of the La Touche banking family. The House nestles high on a raised site which overlooks Dublin Bay, with elm and beech trees lining what was a former terraced walk above a sunken garden.
In 1934, Belfield House and grounds were purchased by UCD to provide a sports centre and playing fields, heralding the birth of the Belfield Campus. The university subsequently expanded the Belfield Campus portfolio to include adjoining properties.
Resting near the main entrance of the university, the original Belfield House was two storeys over basement with a parapet at roof level and a distinctive central bow bay to the northeast façade, overlooking Dublin bay. The building was subsequently extended in the 1830’s generating a mix of Georgian and Victorian features. The entrance porch is Palladian style with Tuscan order columns and pilasters, with the joinery exhibiting a Greek key motif.
The house reception includes an impressive entrance hall and Oval Room exhibiting fine neo-classical plasterwork in the Adams style. The Oval Room was a feature of many great Irish houses, and the Irish-born architect James Hoban is believed to have been inspired by these when designing the White House in Washington.
The former stable buildings and courtyard were converted into sporting facilities after the university acquisition in the 1930’s and acted as the modest base of university sport in the early years.
While now reduced in size, a sunken garden still flourishes today within the environs of Belfield House, offering a peaceful haven amidst the busy life of a modern campus.
The protected building today stands pristine, its lime render restored, after extensive roof, façade and internal renovations. Its fine reception rooms have been returned to their original purpose, in a renovation project led sensitively by architects Fitzgerald Kavanagh.
The restoration included returning the integrity of the spacious reception rooms on the ground floor and removing any inappropriate add-ons from over the years. Original features sympathetically restored include the high level granite string course on the building façade, stone arches in the stables, internal plasterwork and parquet flooring.
The refurbishment of Belfield House and its surroundings provides an especially attractive site and a premier location for greeting distinguished visitors. To this end a series of meeting and study spaces, all with state-of-the-art connectivity and services have been provided.
The strong contemporary landscape scheme which picks up the geometry of the Belfield House walled garden and Yew Walk, truncated by the 1970s campus expansion, now embraces the area between the Clinton Auditorium and the Engineering and Materials Science Centre, leading the eye and the pedestrian across the busy access road to Belfield House.
Current Building Use
Belfield House is now the home of the Clinton Institute of American Studies. The Institute provides a focus for research and postgraduate teaching in the areas of American politics, culture and society. The shared facilities of Belfield House and the Clinton Auditorium will be a flagship site for public interface; an academic centre and a cultural space to promote a greater understanding of the United States in Ireland.
UCD was delighted to be selected to house the prestigious Clinton Institute for American Studies. The resulting funding enabled the restoration of Belfield House – a key phase of the UCD Programme for Preservation of Period Houses.
The beautifully appointed ground floor rooms, known as the Foundation Rooms, will also provide the university, as a whole, with outstanding reception facilities.
The phased physical development of the Clinton Institute at the Belfield Campus incorporates the refurbishment of the Clinton Auditorium completed in September 2005. The subsequent development of Belfield House to provide administration and reception accommodation to support the Clinton Institute was completed in early 2007.
Clinton Institute of American Studies