This development consisted of the renovation of a 5-storey office block which was constructed in the late sixties along with the construction of a new multi storey extension to the rear. The project involved two different strands. The first was refurbishment of a collection of adjoining buildings into the crystal manufacturing and visitor centre which includes a retail outlet. One of the refurbished buildings was a protected structure and therefore required particular care. The conversion enhances the industrial character of the building which had previously functioned as a granary. Two low headroom floors were removed creating large airy gallery spaces. The second strand of the project involved extending and upgrading a car park to provide parking for visitors and especially tour buses. As the new centre is located right in Waterford city, it was imperative that adequate parking be provided to visitors. The new Visitor Centre combines new and old creating an attractive yet functional space to showcase the manufacturing process as well as the finished product of Waterford Crystal. The ground floor and basement levels of the building provides the exclusive House of Waterford Crystal Experience consisting of a Factory Tour of glass blowing, cutting and engraving processes with a substantial retail showroom display area and cafe. The WCC Offices now known as the Menapia Building consists of the Roads, Environmental and Planning Departments located in the upper floor levels. The building structure comprises a combination of reinforced concrete and structural steel supporting reinforced concrete floors. The façade design consists of architectural rain screen cladding systems and integrated glazed panels. A high specification external raised plaza area and courtyard surround the building footprint. All ancillary siteworks and service buildings were designed to complement the inner city’s regeneration.
The restricted nature of the city centre site along with the intense 2-month design program and 5-month construction programme presented significant challenges to the design team throughout the project however the building was successfully handed over to the clients for the tourist season of 2010.