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O'Hare & McGovern

Obel Tower

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Project Info

  • Project Category:
  • Project Name:
    Obel Tower
  • Client:
    Donegall Quay Ltd
  • Location:
    62 - 68 Donegall Quay, Belfast, BT1 3AS, N.I.
  • Architect:
    Broadway Malyan

Project Overview

As Northern Ireland’s tallest building, the Obel Tower is a spectacular building situated in Belfast city centre, and is one of the most prestigious contracts completed in Belfast. The Obel Tower comprises a 28 storey residential tower, an adjacent 8 storey Hotel/Apartment building and 7 storey office block with associated site-works, drainage and landscaping. The buildings were constructed above a 2 storey basement car-park structure below waterline.

The Obelisk structure was selected by Construction Excellence in Northern Ireland as a demonstration of design quality using modern methods of construction.

O’Hare & McGovern were responsible for Designing and constructing the following elements of work under the ‘Contractors Design Portion Supplement’

  • Curtain Walling and Glazing
  • Reinforcing
  • In-Situ Concrete Stairs
  • Proprietary External Wall Cladding System
  • Proprietary Roofing System to the Office Block
  • Lift Installation
  • Basement Extract Ventilation System
  • Architectural metalwork, Gratings and Grilles
  • Surface Water Drainage
  • Any other subcontract element with Design input
  • Factory engineered insulated cladding panels to the office block.

A reduced programme period was accommodated by the utilisation of climbing formwork which enabled 600m² of concrete floor slab to be poured every week.

In order to achieve this demanding programme we proposed that the floor slabs be post tensioned, the result of this technique meant that there was a reduction of concrete required due to thinner slabs, 50% reduction in the requirement for reinforcement in comparison with reinforced concrete slabs & less material deliveries to site. Programme constraints also meant that we had to devise a way of accessing the entire perimeter of the tower requiring minimal craneage time. The solution took the form of a bespoke monorail hoist system which allowed single storey-high cladding panels to be installed by this hoist system from above. The crane raised the pallet loads of cladding panels to the desired level, the monorail system then manoeuvred the panels laterally into the fixing position. As cladding operations could continue independent of crane requirements this meant that cladding could continue even when wind speeds had halted crane operations ensuring that the project remained on programme.

O’Hare & McGovern played a major role in cost control by sustained effort throughout all stages of the project. This was clearly demonstrated by the achievement of £200K of savings brought about by many of our value engineering exercises including substitution of post tension concrete slab in lieu of traditional and door sets changed to traditional doors and frames.

This project was particularly challenging on account of the difficult boundary conditions. The site itself is situated between a six lane urban motorway, an elevated railway and the river Lagan. A major consequence of this very tight site was that only one slewing crane could be accommodated. Owing to the extremely restricted crane capacity we capitalised on a technique of forming the concrete frame by utilising a self-climbing formwork system. The single most important prerequisite of the client’s brief was that one 600m² insitu concrete floor had to be fully cast per week. Access to site was controlled using single point fingerprint identification through a Biometric turnstile. This ensured that only authorized staff gained entry.

Key Features

  • Tallest building in Ireland standing at 88.31 metres high (28 storeys high)
  • Selected by Constructing Excellence in NI as a demonstration of design quality using modern methods of construction
  • Traditional Procurement Route; JCT 2005 with Contractor’s Design
  • Accommodates; 52,462sq ft grade A office accommodation & 282 luxury apartments
  • Live site situated between a six lane urban motorway, an elevated railway & the river Lagan
  • Restricted, confined site (only allowed one slewing crane to be accommodated)
  • Site was situated 4metres from the River Lagan; numerous procedures were employed to ensure that there was no trespass into the water system to prevent any contamination of the Lagan
  • Facilities includes; 3 blocks comprising of an 28 storey residential tower, an adjacent 8 storey Hotel/Apartment building & 7 storey office block
  • Saved the client £200,000 in costs
  • 2 storey basement car-park structure below waterline


  • The Obel project demonstrates the advances in the capabilities of the construction industry in Northern Ireland; It comprises three buildings, the tallest of which is 28 storeys, approximately 88 metres high -The building provides over a quarter of a million square feet of floor area, split across 282 apartments, office and retail space -The views from the top of Belfast and beyond, are breath-taking and the whole project exemplifies the skill and talent of our local construction industry. NI Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson
  • It is very exciting to see this development begin to take its shape and we are looking forward to its presence as a landmark for our city - There is a sense of excitement amongst the public and the construction industry itself as they await the completion of what is destined to be Belfast’s most iconic building to date. Director of Karl Properties, Gayle Boyce