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Institute of Technology

Murray O’Laoire Architects

Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, GMIT, is located on the approach road to Galway City, along the Dublin Road. The site is due south and overlooks Galway Bay. The former campus reflected  standard seventies regional-college architecture with pre-cast concrete cladding panels, ribbon windows and no sense of identity. GMIT wanted to create a new landmark frontage, a building that responded to environmental conditions while referring to and utilising local materials. The palette of materials used includes painted render, native limestone and patinated copper. Copper was chosen for its vibrant colour and malleable qualities, best suited to the organic forms that contrast with the orthogonal building elements. The building comprises two rectangular volumes: the Lecture Block and the Library-IT Block. The Lecture Block consists of sixteen lecture theatres and auditoria of varying capacities stacked above each other over three levels, with the Administration Department set back at roof level on one side. In the adjacent block, the IT Department is topped by the two stacked levels of the library that are connected by a gluelam beech central staircase. The main entrance occurs where these two volumes overlap, demarcating the new axial route through the existing college. The Centre fits within a contoured landscape with ground levels rising and falling around its perimeter, mirroring the footprint of the building. A triangular wedge of land addresses the difference in level between the new and existing buildings, rising towards the GMIT with a cantilevered bridge connecting to the main entrance. A purple, free-form fabric canopy stretches across the bridge sheltering it from SW winds.
A cast-in situ mass concrete wall links the two rectangular forms, denoting the primary line of movement through the building. At the library end of this wall, a series of three-pin steel portal frames push out a layer of the Library-IT enclosure which recedes into the landscape,...

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