At a Trinity College Board meeting held on 9 December plans concerning the demolition of the Perry Building were discussed. It had been agreed beforehand that the Perry Building would be demolished to make way for the construction of a business school on its premises.
According to two sources at the meeting, several options were presented to the board about the appropriate time for the demolition. The first, proposal A, was to go ahead with the demolition in 2017. Under this proposal the building of the Business School would go ahead when originally planned and there would be no need for additional costs.
Proposal B advocated for the demolition of the building in May 2018, which would increase costs by around 6 million and delay the building of the school. It was presented as the “neutral option” since the cost was already accounted for in the planning of another new building project, the E3 project.
The third option, proposal C, detailed plans to demolish the Perry Building in September 2018. The additional costs of undertaking proposal C were expected to rise to somewhere between 10 to 12 million.
According to our first source, one of the reasons for the extra cost is due to the negative impact the delay would have on donors: “donors who want to give will likely feel, if the college can’t manage this project, how can we be sure that they can manage another one?”
Both sources claimed that the plans which were most warmly received by the provost were proposal B and proposal C.
Our second source told us: “the provost sounded like he was going towards proposal B but when the conversations were happening we still ended up at proposal C. They weren’t confident they’d get it done under option B but were quite confident that it wouldn’t go far as proposal C”
Talk concerning proposal A was largely ignored they further said: “there definitely were some board members who were pushing towards proposal A. Yet every time we would try to speak about proposal A, it somehow turned into proposal C.”
Neither was fully able to explain why the College Board would be willing to increase spending when proposal A, an option that would incur no additional cost, existed.
Since the Perry Building is currently being used by mechanical engineering students, both considered this to have been an influential factor. Our first source said, “it seems as if the provost was quite keen not to disrupt engineering. Perfectly reasonable, but engineering is going to be disrupted anyway.”
The other thought that “possibly C will give them more time to find somewhere for those studying mechanical engineering.” However, they also said that this would only make sense if “they have not done the work that they were supposed to do in already finding mechanical engineers a place.”
The second source further commented: “nothing made sense to me about why proposal B & C are acceptable but that’s where they seem to be moving towards. I would still rather see them move towards proposal A. Even if they accounted for the extra cost for proposal B in the E3 plan, with proposal A there would be extra funding available to invest in other areas of the college…I feel like we were missing a piece of information that would allow us to understand.”
Our first source said that it could have something to do with the provost “being from the Engineering Department,” although they admitted that this is just speculation and that they could only postulate on why any option but proposal A would have been considered.
The demolition of the Perry Building and the construction of the business school are part of Trinity’s 2014 5 year strategic plan, which states that “€600m will be required over five years in both capital and increased revenue” to fund a range of capital investments. The building was officially named after Simon Perry in 2012. Professor Simon Perry was chair of civil engineering from 1986 to 2002.