Conservation and Restoration of Heritage Projects

McKeon Group has worked on numerous conservation and restoration projects on heritage sites, ranging from ancient castles to historical libraries.

Ireland boasts some of the oldest architecture in Europe and in order to ensure that these structures continue to stand the test of time, sometimes it is necessary to restore them using modern techniques. These projects often require a different approach to regular refurbishment due to the structural integrity of the building, what its intended purpose is and what regulations surround it. This often means that a specialist will be sought to provide guidance and advice, ensuring that no undue damage occurs to any element.

For example, a building could feature balusters that have been present for more than one hundred years. While they have been weathered and eroded, they are still functional. Therefore, it is possible to restore them without completely removing them, allowing them to be included in the finished product.

Here we take a look at three prestigious projects that we have worked on.

 

Woodlock Hall

One of these projects involved Woodlock Hall in DCU. The restoration and fit-out of Woodlock Library, a protected structure, was a hugely important project to work on. It took place in the All Hallows campus 18th Century Senior House.

Woodlock Hall has been repurposed as a library across multiple levels inside the confines of the hall. We took special care to ensure minimal points of contact with the building. As a result, this allowed us to maintain as much of the existing structure as possible. The refurbishment also saw the restoration of bespoke features. This included the relaying of historic timber floorboards, the restoration of the original wooden paneling, timber doors, and sash windows. We also installed sustainable energy solutions, including geothermal heating. 

We feel privileged to have worked on this project that has given new life to a historic building. Plans for the restoration of Woodlock Hall began in 2018, coinciding with an agreement between the University and the Irish Jesuits in 2019. Following this, they agreed to transfer the library collection from Milltown Park into the care of DCU Library.

We undertook careful internal deconstruction of the lobby area to the front of the hall to facilitate the installation of a new multi-story lift on each floor. Housed in a glazed facade is a prefabricated metal stair system.

We collaborated with Mullarkey Pedersen Architects for this project and the works were completed in 2020. This project also landed a prestigious AAI Award.

 

St Patrick’s Water Tower

This conservation project required McKeon Group to work closely with specialists Nolan Conservation Group to ensure that all works did not damage the structure.

In order to restore this extraordinary building, we completed a full refurbishment which wrapped up in August 2022.

Since being built in 1890, this was the first full refurbishment carried out. While there had been some maintenance works including the repointing of brickwork, nothing as in-depth as our works had been completed.

This involved raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.

We also completed the refurbishment and replacement of clay balusters, replaced the slate roof tiles on top of the tower, a full in-depth clean of the inside and outside of the tower, installed lighting pendants, and then installed a new access platform to the tower.

But our work didn’t end there as the roof also required a major rework. This included the removal of existing redundant fire escape steel stairs, refilling openings at window locations, installation of missing stone cills, and finally completing a new platform walkway over services.

 

Ardgillan Castle:

Nestled in the rolling hills of north county Dublin, Ardgillan Castle was built by the Reverend Robert Taylor in 1738. The house remained in the Taylor family until 1962 when the estate was sold to Heir Henrich Potts of Westphalia.

In 1982, the estate was sold to Fingal County Council and with the help of formerly FÁS now Solas, renovated the house. It was officially opened to the public in 1992 by then-president Mary Robinson.

For anyone unfamiliar with this popular visitor attraction, Ardgillan Castle and Demesne sits on close to 200 acres, between Balbriggan and Skerries, overlooking the Irish Sea with views northward to the Mourne Mountains. Described as Ireland’s hidden gem, the castle is a family favourite for tours, theater events, parties, and more.

McKeon Group was tasked with the repainting of ceilings and walls, joinery, and radiators on the ground and the first floor. We then completed refurbishment works on timber floors. This project involved carefully dealing with the associated antique furniture and art removals, which we then successfully reinstated.

McKeon Group is on Fingal County Council’s conservation restoration framework and have worked on a number of prestigious buildings in the locality, including Malahide Castle.

 

About Us:

With more than 70 years of experience in the construction industry, McKeon Group are capable of reaching and exceeding the goals of our clients. If you have a conservation or heritage project that you would like us to help with, contact our construction team today.

Meet the Team: Bruno Bottura, Quantity Surveyor

“Chase what you want to do – find what makes you happy.”

Meet Bruno

Bruno joined McKeon Group in 2021, bringing with him a desire to push his career to new heights.
After gaining a Civil Engineering degree and working as a Project Manager on sites in Brazil, Bruno knew that he wanted a change. While the money was good, the work wasn’t as fulfilling for him as he wanted and he knew he had to try something new.
“When I graduated college, I got a traineeship with a huge construction company. Out of 28,000 applicants, there was only 40 places and I got one. But the work was fully site-based, I was too tired and I wasn’t enjoying it. Then there was an economic crash and I lost my job for a whole year. I was really fed up. Me and my wife decided to move to Europe for a fresh start and a change of pace.”
After a brief stint in Italy, Bruno was pointed towards Ireland. Within just an hour, he had landed his first job here and while it wasn’t his dream job, it helped him to settle.
“My first job in Ireland was actually rolling burritos! Funnily enough, from the upstairs of the building I could see St Pats Water Tower which ended up being my first project with McKeon Group.”
Bruno’s last stop before beginning his work with McKeon was with a natural stone company, where he worked as an estimator. Now, he is working with us as a quantity surveyor.
 

Going Full Circle

“My first job with McKeon was at St Pats Water Tower. I couldn’t believe it, it was like going full circle! It was a building I had looked at for so long and admired. It was built in 1890 and our works were the first full refurbishment that was carried out, which was incredible to be a part of. We very rarely have buildings that old in Brazil, so it was an entirely new experience for me.”
The works at St Pats Water Tower included raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.
Bruno also spoke of how well the building has stood up, with the eye-catching spiral staircase not needing much more than a fresh paint job to be restored. The weathervane required some welding work, but Bruno says it is “much more prominent now, it’s like a beam of light at the top of the tower.”
 

“Chase what you want to do”

While quite a lot of people in the construction industry follow the footsteps of their relatives, Bruno was the opposite. Coming from a family of lecturers, Bruno found himself drawn to the idea of construction due to the plentiful opportunities, good wages, and varied work.
He said: “For me, it was important to really enjoy what I am doing which I am with McKeon Group. During my traineeship in Brazil, we completed a lot of psychological tests that were supposed to help us find our paths. And while nobody saw me working in an office, it has become where I am happiest. You’re not bound to be something – you can be whatever you want. Ten years ago, I was all about constantly being on the go and making money but now I just want to see my kids grow up and live a quiet life.
“You need to chase what you want to do – find what makes you happy.”
 
 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950 by Tom McKeon, McKeon Group remains a family business to this day. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fit out, and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact https://mckeon.ie.

Unveiling the restoration of St Pats Water Tower to its former glory

McKeon Group has just unveiled the restoration of St Pats Water Tower to its former glory. The work was completed in August 2022 on the Water Tower in Block D on St Patrick’s College campus, and the results are truly stunning.

It isn’t every day that you get to work on a structure that is over 200 years old. McKeon Group was honoured to work on this Dublin Landmark to restore it to its former glory. This conservation project required McKeon Group to work closely with specialists Nolan Conservation Group to ensure that all works did not damage the structure.

In order to restore this extraordinary building, we completed a full refurbishment which wrapped up in August 2022.

Since being built in 1890, this was the first full refurbishment carried out. While there had been some maintenance works including the repointing of brickwork, nothing as in-depth as our works had been completed.

This involved raking and repointing brick and stone work on the tower, refurbishing the drainage pipework, guttering and tower windows, and cleaning and repainting the existing ironwork including a spiral staircase, bell yoke, and weathervane.

We also completed the refurbishment and replacement of clay balusters, replaced the slate roof tiles on top of the tower, a full in-depth clean of the inside and outside of the tower, installed lighting pendants, and then installed a new access platform to the tower.

But our work didn’t end there as the roof also required a major rework. This included the removal of existing redundant fire escape steel stairs, refilling openings at window locations, installation of missing stone cills, and finally completing a new platform walkway over services.

Eye-catching work

Quantity Surveyor Bruno Bottura felt privileged to work on this project, which was his first conservation project since he began working with McKeon Group. Bruno moved to Ireland from Brazil five years ago and in a strange coincidence, the tower already held some significance for him.

He said: “When I started my first job in Ireland, I could see the Water Tower from the window. I loved looking at it, it’s truly a beautiful building. There’s nothing this old in Brazil, especially where I come from.”

Bruno also spoke of how well the building has stood up, with the eye-catching spiral staircase not needing much more than a fresh paint job to be restored. The weather vane required some welding work but Bruno says it is “much more prominent now, it’s like a beam of light at the top of the tower.”

McKeon group would like to especially thank all involved including Eanan O’Doherty (DCU), Cathal Crowe in OCSC, Ciaran Mullarkey in MPA, and our own team, led by Donal Molloy and Bruno Bottura.

Social Value and Community Wellbeing

Through innovating the built environment

Earlier this week, the Construction Sector Group, or CSG, for ‘Innovation and Digital Adoption’ published its Sustainability Consultation Group Report.  The scope of the report was to outline the key research areas for disruptive and scalable innovation in sustainability, carbon reduction and climate action across Ireland’s construction industry, with a focus on supporting increased construction activity. In the course of research, 100 of the industry’s key stakeholders were surveyed under the themes of Decarbonisation, Circular Built Environment, Climate Change Resilience, and Social Value & Community Wellbeing. The outcome of this survey influenced the initial proposals for research and innovation projects.

 

Given Ireland’s current housing crisis and the persistent societal challenges faced, a key area of focus for the CSG is built environment innovation that will ensure social value and  community wellbeing. Initial proposals aim to protect human health and wellbeing, while  supporting local economies and increasing community engagement.

 

Under this theme, the majority of people surveyed believe that smart mobility and multifunctional or adaptable streets are the most important innovation required. The financial value of vegetation, placemaking and urban design was also seen as a key priority, along with the digital mapping of air pollution, identification of sources and mitigation initiatives.

 

Specific proposals for research and innovation include social and environmental post-occupancy evaluation methodology for public buildings and projects. This entails researching suitable POE methodologies that will capture the social and environmental performance of all public buildings and projects, both existing and newly built assets. It is intended that the data be collated and used as ‘lessons learned’ for future projects. Currently, POE in public buildings is only conducted for operational energy. According to the report, there is a need to put in place a system for capturing the in-use performance of these projects and their contribution to community health and well-being, in the context of Ireland 2040 and Housing for All ambitions.

 

Another specific proposal involves researching successful models for community driven planning processes. This will involve a review of local and international best practice examples of community driven planning processes and then the possible creation of digital tools for better communication and participation, and for implementation of a plan for enhanced community participation with local authorities. It was acknowledged by the report that digitalisation opens up an opportunity for greater community engagement in planning, with many international cities now using digital models to test scenarios and proposed developments with input from residents.

 

Encouraging biodiversity across the built environment is another proposed area of research and innovation. This might involve the introduction of a ‘green area ratio’ for proposed developments. A health/cost benefit analysis of increased biodiversity in Irish towns and cities is encouraged. The report concludes that introducing a green area ratio requirement into Irish planning would encourage healthier and more resilient communities.

 

We look forward to seeing how these important industry research projects progress and to contributing through our in-house Innovation Boost team.

 

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie

 

Evolving role of HVAC systems to mitigate the spread of COVID-19

 

Following on from our previously published article on ‘Understanding the role of building ventilation in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in 2021’, which can be accessed here https://mckeon.ie/understanding-the-role-of-building-ventilation-in-curbing-the-spread-of-covid-19-in-2021/, this week – as workplaces prepare for the return of staff and customers – we are exploring the role of HVAC systems and how these are evolving to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

As mechanical and electrical specialists, when approaching HVAC installations or upgrades, the first step is always to understand the overall needs of the clients and the specific needs of the building, with consideration to the existing infrastructure, building and control systems. There is no ‘one size fits all solution’, rather, our team develops a custom-designed solution that meets clients demands in terms of optimising operational and energy efficiency, and increasing user comfort. Going forward, greater control over plant and equipment is likely to be prioritised by the building operators, together with an enhanced, integrated user interface.

There are a number of HVAC measures that have been proven to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, according to industry resource website https://www.facilitiesnet.com/hvac/article/3-HVAC-Measures-To-Fight-COVID-19–19283, including:

  

1) HEPA filtration: High efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters can remove more than 99.9 percent of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or greater, including pollen, dust, some bacteria and some viruses. The coronavirus has a diameter of about 0.1 microns, however, as the virus typically attaches to exhaled water droplets that are 5 microns or larger, they can be trapped by a HEPA filter. 

2) Outdoor-air ventilation rates: HVAC systems have evolved to operate with a minimum of outside air. Increased levels of outdoor air will dilute contaminants inside, including COVID-19, however, this increases heating and air conditioning costs as the system must raise or lower the temperature of outside air to the temperature of the conditioned space. According to the previously mentioned article, higher rates of outdoor-air ventilation might not help much in the fight against the coronavirus, “but higher ventilation rates coupled with other good practices can curtail the spread of the virus from one area in a building to another area served by the same system”.

3) Humidity levels: Research has now shown that the virus remains airborne longer and can travel farther in dryer conditions, therefore relative humidity of 40-60 percent might help limit the spread of the coronavirus. The article cautions that not all HVAC systems can maintain these high humidity levels year round so the operation of the systems and spaces should be monitored for signs of condensation and/or mold.

 

The above measures prioritise minimising the spread of Covid-19, which can – temporarily – run contrary to energy efficiency and best practice. For more about this, please see McKeon Group insights on ‘COVID-19 Preventative Measures vs. Energy Conservation in Office Buildingshttps://mckeon.ie/covid-19-preventative-measures-vs-energy-conservation-in-office-buildings/ . For expert advice, contact the team at www.mckeon.ie.

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie

 

Investing in Sustainability

 

According to Irish Building Magazine, Ireland-based AEC firms are on track to invest an average of €800,000 in sustainability initiatives over the next five years. You can read the article in full here: https://www.irishbuildingmagazine.ie/2021/03/22/irelands-aec-firms-to-invest-on-average-e800k-in-sustainability-over-five-years/

The figure above is based on European research undertaken by Autodesk, in partnership with global consulting firm, Frost & Sullivan and it applies similarly to UK-based architecture, engineering, construction and manufacturing companies. This research was conducted amongst 600 business decision-makers in the AEC and manufacturing industries located across Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland and the UK. According to the findings, construction companies in the Nordics countries are leading the way when it comes to a focus on industry sustainability. More than 90 percent of the businesses surveyed in that region have a dedicated sustainability team. And Ireland looks to be following suit. Of the business leaders surveyed in Ireland and the UK, 95 percent reported that their organisations are investing in improved workflows, including reducing waste and energy consumption, as part of their sustainability initiatives and they identified sustainability as a key area for business investment over the coming years. In fact, more than half of AEC firms in Ireland and the UK are investing in recruitment and training as part of their sustainability objectives, likely within the next two years.

Given the broad meaning of the term ‘sustainability’ in the context of the built environment, it was interesting to see the report break this down into areas of immediate or priority focus for the industry. According to this particular report, members of the AEC sector see green building as the most important area for achieving future sustainability impact goals, followed by low carbon innovation. Circular design and supporting vulnerable communities affected by climate change also make it onto the list of industry priorities. Despite the very real and important benefits of greater sustainability across the built environment, lack of financial resources and access to skills and training remain significant challenges for a large cohort of the industry.

It was positive to see that more than half of all leaders surveyed believe sustainable practices improve overall project quality, which is something that we here at McKeon Group heartily agree with. One particularly enlightening part of the report covered the motivation behind this increase in sustainability initiatives across the industry. When asked why their company was embracing sustainability more than 90 percent of those in Ireland and the UK cited customer retention as the most important factor, and this was followed by competitive advantage at 64 percent, customer expectations at 83 percent, supply chain and partner expectations at 54 percent, attracting talent and employee satisfaction was cited by 39 percent and investor relations came in at 44 percent. Frankly, it is surprising and somewhat alarming that environmental concerns did not even crack the top six reasons! 

Positioning technology as  having a pivotal role to play in driving sustainability, the Autodesk/Frost & Sullivan survey also probed current and expected investment in technology and more than 77 percent of respondents confirmed that they are already investing in technology. Of course, confirmation bias is inherent in such surveys, particularly online, so it is difficult to determine just how reflective of the entire AEC ecosystem this stat actually is… 

 

About McKeon Group

Established in 1950 and ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The family-run Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact: www.mckeon.ie

 

McKeon Group Wins Retail Fit Out Award 2020

Well done to all the team at McKeon Group – our retail project at Dublin’s iconic Royal Hibernian Way was recently announced as the winning project at the https://www.fitoutawards.ie 2020.

Ireland-based fit out teams have earned a reputation for world-class delivery and the annual Fit Out Awards recognise and celebrate excellence in this specialist sector. For 2020,  in line with pandemic restrictions, business broadcaster Richard Curran hosted a digital awards ceremony to announce the winning firms and projects. Well done to our industry peers on their projects, which were shortlisted alongside McKeon Group’s Royal Hibernian Way project in the Retail category, including Allcare Pharmacy, Merrion Shopping Centre; Chadwicks Drogheda; Chadwicks Gorey; Cloud 9 Furniture and Junction 14 Mayfield.

You can read more about the Royal Hibernian Way project here: https://mckeon.ie/project-detail/royal-hibernian-way/

 

 

About McKeon Group:

Established in 1950, this year marks the 70th anniversary of McKeon Group, which remains a family business. ISO certified for more than two decades, McKeon Group offers expert construction, fitout and building services. The Group delivers projects, services and maintenance across a range of sectors for State, local authority, FDI and private clients. For more information, contact McKeon.ie