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Type
Lecture

Refurbishment of Belfast’s Grand Opera House

Event organised by ICE

Date
12 September 2023
Time
17:30 - 19:30 BST (GMT+1)
Location
Lecture Theatre 3 - BC-00-307
Ulster University
Building BC
2-24 York Street
Belfast, BT15 1ED
United Kingdom

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Overview

Originally constructed in 1895, Belfast’s Grand Opera House was at risk of demolition in the 1970s, extended in 2006, and recently refurbished during 2020-2021. Jim Kerr will be discussing the civil, structural and conservation engineering consultancy services provided by Albert Fry Associates and Sam Franklin will talk on the structural engineering design of the helical feature stair within the foyer, carried out by Design ID.

Conservation works and interventions to the original theatre building included inspections, investigation and detailed survey of the building and its previous remediation and repairs.

The historic decorative ceiling within the auditorium being of fibrous plaster construction, suspended from the timber-trussed roof structure by means of hessian and plaster ‘wads’, warranted a comprehensive survey and assessment as such ceilings are recognized as being at risk if left neglected. All structural elements including the timber trusses and cast-iron columns embedded within the famous elephant heads were assessed element by element to allow modelling of the structure and assessment of its condition and capacity.

Alterations to the modern front-of-house building included construction of a helical, central-stairway linking the foyer to new hospitality suites and the heritage exhibitions on the upper floors. Enhanced access to the auditorium required the removal of the lower level of a full height reinforced concrete column. This was achieved by means of a robust steelwork transfer structure bearing onto steel mini-piles installed using a low-headroom piling rig. The transfer structure was efficiently concealed within a new decorative entrance portal.

The refurbishment and enhancement of the Opera House were successfully implemented by the open collaborative working approach embraced by the Opera House management, the contractor and the design team.

In partnership with

The Institution of Structural Engineers

The Institution of Structural Engineers

The Institution is the world's largest membership organisation dedicated to structural engineering.

Speakers

Jim Kerr

Jim Kerr

Albert Fry Associates

director

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Jim Kerr

BSc MBA CEng MICE FIStructE MCMI CARE-Accredited Conservation Engineer Jim Kerr has over 30 years experience in providing engineering consultancy services on projects throughout Ireland and the UK, with much of this time spent as director of Albert Fry Associates. Jim’s experience has been working on both structural engineering and civil engineering projects. His structural experience includes multi-storey office and apartment buildings, deep basements, historic buildings restoration, schools and colleges, industrial facilities, and a number of conservation projects. His Civil experience includes residential and commercial infrastructure, industrial estates, municipal facilities and sports facilities. Jim has been a CARE registered conservation engineer since 2011.

Sam Franklin

Sam Franklin

Albert Fry Associates

Structural Engineer

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Sam Franklin

Sam has over six years post-graduate experience as a structural engineer, with a broad range of experience across projects ranging from bespoke residential dwellings to £60M reinforced concrete frames.

During his career Sam has carried out the design of a number of feature staircases, each presenting unique opportunities to develop his knowledge on the design of structural glazing, and structural stainless steel and aluminium elements. Sam has a keen interest in conservation engineering, and share’s the IStructE’s optimism toward the vital role of the structural engineer in a carbon conscious future.

For more information please contact:

Maeve Currie