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O'Hare & McGovern

Downshire Civic Centre

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Project Info

  • Project Category:
  • Project Name:
    Downshire Civic Centre
  • Client:
    Down District Council
  • Location:
    Ardglass Rd, Downpatrick, Co.Down, BT30 6RA, N.I.
  • Architect:
    WDR & RT Taggart Ltd

Project Overview

Demolition of an existing hospital building and construction of a new 2800m² three storey office building with a double storey glazed entrance foyer. Connected to an existing Grade 2 Listed building which was renovated to provide council offices and a public reception area, within the grounds of the former Downshire Hospital. The existing building contained asbestos and we engaged a specialist subcontractor to carry out an identification survey and asbestos removal prior to demolition and construction works commencing on site. Re-modelling, renovation and fit out of 3597m² of existing three storey buildings also formed part of our construction contract to provide new administration offices for Down District Council.

The existing property (blocks 1-3) were a combination of red and cream brick and stone with a slate roof; the window frames incorporate sliding timber sash windows and the existing rainwater goods were a combination of lead box gutters and cast iron. The property had been poorly maintained once it had been vacated some years ago, therefore leading to internal water damage as a result of a storm damaged roof and there were also structural defects which had to be repaired during the construction works.

The new block 4 extension was constructed using a concrete frame with the external envelope comprising natural stone cladding panels with large areas of external structural and curved glazing. Extensive external works were carried out to provide pedestrian walkways, landscaped areas access roads and car parking within the existing grounds.

Key Features

  • Adjacent to existing hospital & within close proximity to a Mental Health Unit
  • Asbestos identification & removal
  • Refurbishments
  • Repairs of existing brickwork, stone & roof
  • Manufacturing replacement sash windows to match non-standard opening sizes
  • Upgrading external fabric of existing building to comply with building regulations
  • Matching existing floor levels with new extension
  • Salvaging and renovating exiting materials/fittings for re-use
  • Working with limitations of Grade 2 listed building
  • Connection between new & existing building


  • O’Hare & McGovern’s work on the new home of Down District Council is the perfect illustration of the company’s attention to detail - The state-of-the-art office complex provides the perfect bridge between old and new to provide a neat integration of an impressive new extension with the former Downshire Hospital in Downpatrick, it was achieving this seamless integration that proved to be one of the biggest challenges for O’Hare & McGovern and this is where the company’s extensive experience came into play. The Northern Builder Magazine.
  • This Civic Centre promoted and developed by Down District Council is the lead anchor tenant in Northern Ireland’s first ever public sector campus, a modern and pioneering approach to delivering public services and on a personal level, this building represents for me what this community is about – service and commitment to the wider community, and particularly to all those in need - The building itself is striking and much praise must go to those involved in the design and construction process who delicately managed to blend the old with the new in a very subtle yet modern way. South Down SDLP Member of Parliament, Margaret Ritchie
  • This development as a national model for the way older buildings can be brought back into use. Group Chief Building Control Officer, Marie Ward
  • I have no doubt that this grand old building will continue to have this positive hold on existing and future employees, and all who visit here as potential investors to the area - All those involved in this project from the development of the concept to the completion and fitting out of this building deserve our appreciation, praise and congratulations as we look forward to this building leading the way in public sector administration. Local author of “The Grand Old Lady", Sean Kelly at the launch of his new book
  • The move to the Downshire Civic Centre provides a good opportunity for our staff to work more closely with other bodies -   It is well designed, very progressive and a signal that Down District Council is a proactive organisation and it is a good example of modern services being brought to the community. Down District Council Chief Executive, John Dumigan