Saturday 22 October 2016

Crumbling Health HQ poses a risk to visitors

Hawkins House
Hawkins House

HEALTH bosses have been forced to place decking around one of the capital's ugliest buildings over fears that parts of the structure might fall and injure someone during winter storms.

The Department of Health said that "protective measures" had been installed at Hawkins House following a survey by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

Voted the worst building in Dublin, the 12-storey eyesore was designed by Sir Thomas Bennett and erected in 1962.

It replaced the Theatre Royal, and was marketed as a "prestige building" when it opened.

But now there are concerns that panels on the exterior are in danger of falling off and injuring passers-by and visitors.

The OPW said an outer structure had been put in place to "protect the external facade of the building".

The move comes because parts of the panels on the exterior have been falling off.

There is concern that a serious injury might arise if a larger piece fell.


"It is a precautionary measure to protect the facade of the building in the coming winter months," said an OPW spokesman.

"It has been put in place to deal with any possibility that material from the facade may come loose and fall."

The Department of Health added that the scaffolding was put up following a building survey. "While the building is safe, precautionary protective measures should be put in place for Hawkins House in advance of the winter," it said in a statement.

"This included the placing of a deck or platform around both annexes to the building to deal with the possibility of any material falling from the exterior."

The building has long been earmarked for redevelopment due to its unsuitability for modern offices. Its city centre location would be an attractive proposition for a commercial developer keen to build offices and residential units.

In 2008, former Health Minister Mary Harney said it had "long been recognised" that the building was "not a viable long-term headquarters" for the department.

It was intended to move the department to a building vacated by the OPW on St Stephen's Green and to redevelop the Hawkins House site with a private sector partner, but the plans did not proceed.

It is now being suggested that the Department of Health might relocate to the Central Bank on Dame Street, when the bank moves to the Docklands.

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