Trinity’s flagship Engineering, Environment and Emerging Technologies (E3) Institute is set to hit delays and may not be completed until 2023, amid a countrywide lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Construction of the six-storey building, located on the east end of campus, between Westland Row and College Park, started earlier this year.
In an interview with The University Times, Trinity’s Bursar Veronica Campbell said the project’s delivery date is now “likely to move into 2023”.
Restrictions on construction work are the biggest factor in why the plans have been delayed, Campbell said.
“The project is due to go back to Board anyway, and the Finance Committee in June”, she continued. “So working with our cost consultants we will be looking at all of the implications around any revisions of the overall programme for the delivery of E3.”
“The team is working through a number of scenarios with how we can continue to move forward in the project in a way that is minimising any risk to Trinity. And that would be the same for any project, that is always going to be ongoing work and the cost consultants are always reiterating the overall cost of the programme based on market insights.”
“It is difficult to plan anything further until we know when we will be back in business”, Campbell said. “The exact month in 2023 really depends on these Covid restrictions”
The E3 Learning Foundry – due to be named after Martin Naughton, who made a €25 million donation to the project – was expected to be completed in 2022.
The new building will facilitate an increase of one third to the number of STEM students, with an additional 1,800 places being created.
“Trinity has taken legal advice regarding this global emergency and the implications it will have with contracts around construction projects”, Campbell added.
Phase one of the project – the demolition of the biochemistry building – has already been completed. Phase two – further demolition of areas surrounding the zoology building – has been put on hold indefinitely.
“We are just thinking through how best to tackle that at the moment as that work cannot begin as no one can access the site”, Campbell said.
Earlier this year, The University Times reported that Trinity made dramatic cutbacks to plans for the E3 Institute after a sharp decline in projected student income over the coming decades.
Confidential documents presented to Trinity’s College Board in November, obtained by The University Times, show major changes to the institute’s business plan, with projected costs down more than €55 million over a 30-year period.
The figures show a number of miscalculations in the previous business plan, approved by the College Board in February 2018, with an €85 million drop in expected student income – down from €659 million to €573 million.