UCD Student Centre is at the core of the UCD Student Experience, providing a home for Clubs and Societies as well as housing many of the essential services students interact with on a daily basis. If it is catching up for a drink in the Clubhouse, attending a play in the DramSoc Theatre, joining in a weekly debate in the Chamber or even just settling down for a blockbuster in the state of the art cinema, the Student Centre is the hub of UCD Student Life. Also housed in the Student Centre are a wide range of shops and restaurants, a pool room, the student health service and the multifunctional Astra Hall that across the year plays hosts to a range of events including concerts, musicals and guest speakers.
Within the Student Centre there are also a number of meeting and function rooms which can be hired by clubs and societies for a range of functions. The above facilities are also available to hire privately making UCD Student Centre the ideal venue for meetings and conferences.
History of UCD Student Centre
By the 1940s, UCD’s continued growth had pushed the university’s city centre facilities to their absolute capacity. A number of options were considered to alleviate the problem and plan for the future. Rather than expanding the existing city centre campus, a decision was taken to relocate the university to a central 300 acre campus in Belfield, South Dublin. In theory, UCD’s move out of the city centre and onto the Belfield campus began in 1933 when, under the Presidency of Denis J Coffey, the university bought Belfield House on 44 acres for £8,000. Over the following decades UCD continued to purchase lands and estate houses and today the Belfield campus boasts an impressive cumulative total area of over 380 acres. In reality, the relocation itself started in the early 1960’s, beginning with the Faculty of Science.
Andrzej Wejchert was the architect selected to oversee the development of the new campus. The job facing Wejchert was made even more difficult by the fact that it required an additional level of foresight in that it planned for the protracted, irregular development of the campus by multiple architects. Plans for one such development surfaced in the 1970’s with proposals for the creation of a student precinct in the centre of the Belfield campus. The Student Club, near the restaurant, was originally conceived as a part of a larger complex of student facilities. Proposals had even been drawn up for a Student Centre at the current location of the Daedalus building. However, with the opening of the Arts Block (1969/70), the James Joyce Library (1973), and later the Sports Centre (1981) pressures on student services were eased and the ambitious project was not realised at this time.
As UCD continued to grow so did the demands on its facilities. Over a ten year period (1987-1997) UCD’s student population had grown from 10,690 to 17,301. As a result the Student Centre project was re-visited to relieve pressure on academic buildings and finally provide a home for the vibrant student life that had taken shape on the campus. By 1997 President Art Cosgrove was able to confirm that a student centre would be built on campus between the existing sports and science buildings.
The opening of the Student Centre in 2001 was intended to be the answer to the lack of facilities for student life. However as the student population continued to grow (24,933 in the academic year 2011/2012), the range of student activities at all levels continued to expand, while space in academic buildings was reducing all the time. As the Student Centre was being used beyond its capacity, the new Student Centre project was developed. A referendum was voted on and passed in 2006 led by the Societies Council, with the support of Sports Clubs and the Students' Union, which increased the Student Levy in order to fund the project. The Student Centre will continue to be run by a Management Committee with student representatives from the Societies Council, Students' Union and the Athletics Union Council.
Construction on the extension project began in 2009. The building itself was opened to the public on June 22nd 2012, however the official opening did not take place until November 29th. The original Student Centre covered a floor space of almost 4,000m2. The Student Centre extension covers nearly 3 acres, and has a total floor space of 11,000m2. When combined with the Sports Centre they create a total floor space of 22,000m2. UCD Students and staff have come together to create the most extensive and exciting student facility of any European university.