In 1987 the Irish government set a new national target for Irish tourism, namely - to double Irish tourism over a five-year period. This ambitious plan coincided with the introduction of new European Regional Development Funding and planning for the tourism sector. The second European Regional Development Fund Programme for Tourism (ERDF) was launched in 1992. This five-year plan identified major product deficits and impediments to growth and proposed new infrastructure and other product offerings needed to encourage and attract more visitors – both leisure and business. In the 1992 ERDF plan, the top priority for the development of business and conference tourism to Ireland was the provision of a new fit-for-purpose National Conference Centre (NCC). In capital investment terms, a new NCC would represent by far the largest State outlay in the development of a single tourism related project.
1997 - 2005
Following the government policy to develop a National Conference Centre (NCC) in Dublin, Dermod Dwyer was appointed by the Spencer Dock promoters as group leader to assemble a professional team to design and ultimately deliver a national conference facility for the docklands site. Master planning and design development was achieved by the newly appointed professional team led by Pritzker Prize winning architect Kevin Roche, The NEC Group, OCSC, Bruce Shaw and up to 40 professional consultant specialties. In 1999/2000, the promoters Treasury Holdings/Spencer Dock Development Company first applied for and received planning permission for a National Conference Centre. The NCC was designed to be the landmark iconic centrepiece of a larger 3.75 million square foot mixed use area Master Plan on the riverside 20 acre portion of the larger 52 acre Spencer Dock site. Several subsequent unsuccessful tender/negotiated processes failed to deliver an NCC. Finally, in 2005, the Office of Public Works (OPW) sponsored a new PPP competition where qualified promoters were asked to tender to provide a site, design, finance, build and operate the NCC.
After a lengthy pre-qualification tender process, five approved bidders offering five different sites were invited to submit full tenders to include, site provision, design, finance, construction, risk transfer and operational management of the proposed NCC. The Spencer Dock business proposal was successful. Late in 2005, the Irish government confirmed the selection of Spencer Dock in Dublin as the preferred site for the proposed National Conference Centre. Minister for Tourism John O'Donoghue said that the Spencer Dock International Consortium had been confirmed as the preferred bidder for the centre, which would be constructed and operated as a Public-Private Partnership.
The €380 million landmark riverside development, at the nexus of the River Liffey and the Royal Canal, close to Connolly Station and the Point Theatre (now known as 3 Arena) originally included a 250-bed, five-star hotel. Designed by architect Kevin Roche, the proposal already had planning permission.
As preferred bidder, the consortium and their advisors then entered into contractual discussions with the OPW and their advisory teams on the detailed design, finance, construction, marketing and management of the facility. The go-ahead for construction would, however, require Cabinet approval, which, Mr O'Donoghue said, he expected by the end of 2006.
The Government announced that the Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin (SDCCD) had won the contract to build the conference centre in a deal valued at €380 million. Construction Management Partnership (CMP), a joint venture arrangement between promoters Treasury Holdings Limited and John Sisk & Son Limited, were engaged as design and build contractors. Tourism and Arts Minister John O'Donoghue signed the contract for the provision of the National Conference Centre with SDCCD.
Construction work above ground began on The Convention Centre Dublin (The CCD).
Ireland's largest ever pour of concrete took place at The Convention Centre Dublin on 25 April 2008, with 6,000 tonnes of low-carbon cement from Ecocem. Over 16 hours, 360 trucks poured 2,534 m3 of Low Carbon Concrete.
After 40 months on-site construction work on the building, it was completed four months ahead of schedule and on budget. The building was handed over to SDCCD from CMP.
Practical Completion was achieved and the building was legally handed over to the ownership of the Office of Public Works (OPW) as the commissioning Authority and official agent of the Government of Ireland. The CCD is one of only two new major State public access buildings constructed in Dublin since the foundation of the State.
7 September 2010
The Convention Centre Dublin officially opened by the Taoiseach of Ireland Brian Cowen. The formal State opening ceremony was attended by 1,800 dignitaries. To mark the launch of The CCD, a Poem for Spencer Dock was commissioned by Irish poet Michael O’Siadhail. Sinead O’Connor and Westlife were two of the many entertainers who participated at opening day events.
The Convention Centre Dublin marked ten years in operation. Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, this moment in history was not publicly celebrated.
Founding Chairman of The Convention Centre Dublin, Dermod Dwyer, retired on 28 February 2021 after 23 years.
Having been appointed to Chairman of SDCC in 1997, Mr Dwyer became Executive Chairman of The Convention Centre Dublin and related companies in 1999. He steered the project from concept, design, construction and funding to completion in September 2010 and through its first decade to become what has become widely acknowledged as the leading premium conference centre in Europe.
On his retirement, Mr Dwyer said: “It has been my great personal privilege to work with the original promoters – John Ronan and Richard Barrett, with Kevin Roche as architect, and to have assembled an extraordinary team of people who tendered successfully for this Public Private Partnership project. Together, we have designed what is visually and functionally a state-owned landmark building, and then established it to become a very successful, international business in partnership with our colleagues in the Office of Public Works.”
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