Marine Institute Headquarters Scoops Two Top Architectural Awards

Ciaran O'Connor, OPW, Petter Heffernan and Minister Ahern.The Marine Institute headquarters at Oranmore, Co. Galway has scooped two of the top Opus National Architectural Awards, which were announced last night (Tuesday 7th November) including the highly competitive “Large Development Award” for projects valued at over €7 million.  

The project also won the “Wood Excellence Award” for its use of sustainably grown timbers, such as American ash and oak, Iroko, maple, cherry and beech throughout the building  

Speaking on behalf of the Institute and its staff, MI Chief Executive Dr. Peter Heffernan said, “This project was a once in a lifetime challenge to create a building that was not only a modern, world class headquarters for the Marine Institute, but also a symbol of Ireland as a ‘happening place for research and innovation’. It was also essential that the layout of the building fostered the meeting of minds and sharing of ideas between the multi-disciplinary teams that work there. Feedback received from staff, as well as the national and international visitors to the Institute, confirm that we were successful in achieving all our design goals thanks to the talents of the OPW Architectural Services Team. On behalf of the staff, I congratulate them on their success and thank them for creating a unique environment from which to promote the sustainable development of Ireland’s seas.”  

The building was designed by an award-winning team from the Office of Public Works, led by Ciaran O’Connor, whose work includes the new State Laboratories at Backweston and the extension of the Botanic Gardens.

His vision was a building that was not only in harmony with the spirit of the site, but which also worked functionally as a working environment and could be delivered within the budget of the project.  

Model of Marine Institute Headquarters at Oranmore.Inspiration for the design of the building and its unique semi-circular crescent shape came from the vastness of Galway Bay as seen from the site, the movement of water around it and, in particular, from John Constable’s sketches for the painting “Seascape Study with Rain Clouds” (1824-25). Ciaran O’Connor studied eddies, waves and water droplets, as well as making over 50 sketches of the beach, the shore and the effects of ripples in the sand around Oranmore to incorporate into his final design, based on “the common geometry of the wave”.

In all, over 700 drawings were completed in the architectural design of the building.   There were no objections to the location or design of the building during the planning process.