The first ever University of Limerick students to attend classes at the University’s City Centre Campus were on site this morning to begin a new educational journey.
Students from UL’s School of Design were at the Sarsfield Street site for classes, including in the newly fitted out digital fabrication facility ‘Fab Lab’ today, Tuesday.
New teaching spaces and a presentation area, plus a Citizen Innovation Lab which is a joint initiative with Limerick City and County Council, have been developed in the existing building.
UL President Professor Kerstin Mey and Mayor of Limerick City and County Daniel Butler paid a visit to the University’s new facility to welcome the students to the City Centre Campus.
A section of the building has been retrofitted for use in the short term, while a longer-term master plan for the site is developed, which will lead to thousands of students using the campus.
Professor Mey said: “This is a fantastic day for us at University of Limerick and advances a long-held ambition to have larger numbers of our students in Limerick city centre. We want to create state of the art learning, research and engagement facilities here in the UL City Centre Campus.
“The longer term vision for the existing building and site will be developed to a world class standard, while being sensitive to sustainability – and we will do that with our partners in Limerick City and County Council, communities, businesses and industry.
“The idea is that this would be developed into a commercial and community public space and I am delighted that we are already hosting a Citizen Engagement and Innovation lab with the Council that shows the potential for the site and for collaboration with our partners.
“Our ambition for this site is great. We see it as an important hub for engaged research and knowledge exchange, and with our student numbers destined to increase due to demographic growth, we want to have a sizeable portion of them based at this facility in the heart of our city. We are planning for this growth. At last, for a group of UL students, their educational journey will include learning in our City Centre Campus during this semester.
“Town and gown are finally coming together at this new location and we are delighted about that,” Professor Mey added.
Mayor Daniel Butler said: “I am delighted to welcome the first students into UL’s City Centre Campus today. It is a hugely significant day for the University but also for the city centre, as we look to develop the campus in the heart of the city.
“The location of the campus is on a prime site, visible from all angles and from all directions. We want the UL City Centre Campus to be a beacon for people. Working with the University into the future, we want a campus that is striking in its architecture, a place that nurtures innovation and fosters creativity.
“With such a prominent and prestigious site along the River Shannon, it is incumbent on both the University and the local authority to work together to create a campus that Limerick deserves,” Mayor Butler added.
Initial works to prepare a portion of the internal space on the first floor of the building have been ongoing since July of last year. This was done to create a new space for the UL Fab Lab and the +Cityxchange project and Citizens’ Innovation Lab.
As part of the internal works during this initial phase, a new access lift and ramp have been built at the Sarsfield Street entrance, new doors installed and an area of the first floor has been fully refurbished.
Fab Lab Limerick, a School of Architecture initiative, started in 2012 and is a fully functional digital fabrication laboratory that offers cultural, educational and research programmes on digital fabrication, bridging the gap between technology and creatives from all disciplines.
It was established in the city in 2015 at a premises in Rutland Street before now moving to the UL City Centre Campus.
The +CityxChange (Positive City ExChange) is a smart city project that has been granted funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme in the call for ‘Smart cities and communities.’ Limerick is one of two ‘Lighthouse Cities’ for the project.
The Citizen Innovation lab is a joint initiative, led by LCCC in partnership with UL as part of the +CityxChange H2020 project.