It is my great pleasure to welcome you to the website of Blackrock Further Education Institute (BFEI). Formerly Senior College Dún Laoghaire (SCD), the College relocated from Dún Laoghaire in June 2014 and rebranded as Blackrock Further Education Institute.
BFEI is one of the largest further education colleges in the country catering for over 1,000 full and part time students. The Institute offers day and evening courses in a variety of disciplines including Beauty, Health and Wellbeing Therapies, Theatrical Media Make Up, Business, Accounting, Marketing & Auctioneering, Design and Creative Technologies, Community, Emergency & Health Care and Computing & Communications Technology. Providing further education courses for over 30 years we are regarded as a national leader in the development of further education.
Our aim is to provide innovative quality assured programmes that meet industry requirements. A core part of our mission is to prepare students for employment or progression to further studies. Our staff are highly qualified and support students in developing new skills and enhancing their education so that they have the relevant skills to avail of employment opportunities at home and abroad. Staff encourage all students to work hard, meet assignment deadlines and give a full commitment to their course of study. A range of teaching and learning methods are used to ensure students achieve the knowledge, skills and competences associated with their chosen programme of study. Modern technology, in particular, the elearning platform, Moodle, is used to support the learning experience. Students are also encouraged to become involved in the social life of the Institute by participating in Institute events and activities.
I invite you to explore BFEI, first through this website, and then in person at our state-of-the-art, award winning campus, in the heart of Blackrock village.
The Original Buildings
Blackrock Further Education Institute encompasses three heritage buildings in one state-of-the-art educational facility, showcasing the highest standards in design and master craftsmanship.
The buildings date back to 1865 with the construction of Blackrock Town Hall (the leftmost part of the present complex, as viewed from across the street) at a cost of £3,500.
The Carnegie Library (the centre part of the present complex) was built in 1905 with a £3,000 grant provided by Andrew Carnegie, a Scottish American industrialist who made his fortune from the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th century. The fire station (at the extreme left of the present complex) was later erected by the Urban District Council.
Blackrock Technical School (in the rightmost part of the present complex in the area now occupied by Blackrock public library) opened in September 1905 with the aim of supporting the main local industries of carpentry, coach and harness-making, laundry work and tailoring.
The first classes taught included mathematics, manual instruction (carpentry, joinery and building construction), cookery & laundry, dressmaking, needlework & machine-knitting, shorthand, book-keeping & typewriting, commercial geography, commercial French; as well as plumbing and tailor’s cutting. Girls’ class were held on Mondays and boys’ class on Tuesdays.
The 1930 Vocational Education Act was set up to administer “continuation” and “technical education” for 14 to 16-year-olds and the school became a vocational school under the control of Dún Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee. It provided education for generations of local children until it closed due to dwindling enrolments in 1980.
Our College History: From Blackrock to Dún Laoghaire and back!
The building was re-opened in 1981 by Dun Laoghaire Vocational Education Committee, as Blackrock Adult Education College, offering two secretarial courses and one adult leaving certificate course. In 1982 when it began to expand its range of courses for post Leaving Cert students it was renamed Senior College Blackrock. In the summer of 1984 dry rot was discovered in the building, necessitating an urgent transfer to a building located on Eblana Avenue in Dún Laoghaire. The College would now have its third name in four year: Senior College Dún Laoghaire (SCD). Post Leaving Cert courses thrived in the College, as they did nationally in the 1980s partly due to the economic downturn and the lack of capacity in the then Regional Technical Colleges and Universities. With the dry rot problem solved and insufficient space in Dún Laoghaire, the computer department returned to Blackrock in 1990. By 1996 planning began to redevelop the Blackrock site to accommodate the whole College in one location so the computer department returned to Dun Laoghaire and the Blackrock building closed to facilitate the building project. In 2014, with the building project finally complete, the College relocated to Blackrock and rebranded as Blackrock Further Education Institute.
Our New Campus Building
The building project entailed meticulous restructuring of three protected structures (Blackrock Town Hall, The Carnegie Library and the Blackrock Technical School), dating between 1860’s and the early 1900’s, with the interior layout reorganised and upgraded to include facilities befitting of a new further education institute. The existing buildings were restored and refurbished in a sympathetic manner that highlighted and accentuated the original features. In contrast, the new L-shaped building, which complements the existing structures, incorporating a structural steel frame with block-work infill, pre-cast concrete floors and in-situ concrete stairs, exhibits modern building techniques at their best. The design includes a four storey atrium, where the old and new buildings meet, rising from the basements which boasts a floor covering that was specially sourced and digitally printed from a photograph of the local beach. The decorative rooftop courtyard, enclosed on four sides, offers an oasis of ferns amidst the urban surroundings whilst providing a natural source of light to the surrounding facility. These spaces were designed to create light canons and have been used effectively to create social areas for students.
Prior to commencement of the building works, salvaged materials were carefully removed from the historic buildings and relocated, where each item was meticulously cleaned, sorted and tagged. Most of the existing timber floors were carefully restored following removal from site, with each board measured, catalogued, and treated before being reinstalled. Internal doors were removed, restored and upgraded in line with current fire regulations, existing windows were for the most part refurbished and ironwork restored. Chimneys were repaired and capped with lead to protect the building for the next 100 years.
Maintaining the link between old and new, the original fire station archway entrance was preserved and incorporated into the new building. To ensure the historical character of the arch was maintained, a small stone coursed random rubble side wall was built using old-fashioned building methods and techniques.
The design required the lantern roof light, originally positioned above the council chamber to be relocated above the new boardroom however, the existing roof required extensive restoration and repair works to the rafters, existing chimneys and lead work prior to installation. Scaffolding was erected and the entire parapet was stripped and rebuilt within the limited timeframe. The original lantern roof light was removed off site and refurbished before being relocated in the new location.
Restoration and refurbishment of the external facade was extensive and included cleaning and rebuilding of decorative plaster work including cartouche’s, swags, drops, pilasters and window brackets in lime render. Where the original features could not be saved, replicas were expertly created by the very best skilled craftsmen in that field, using the same hand-carved traditional techniques. Samples of sand where matched from beaches in Wexford, Donegal and Galway to find the perfect blend. The ornate shell feature positioned over the archway of the front entrance to the new Blackrock Library was hand crafted. A clay model was produced and installed using a specialist restoration mortar. The historic old town hall clock was refurbished with new modern workings, while the original face was retained, and the original fire station archway entrance was preserved and incorporated into the new school building.
Award winning architects McCullough Mulvin designed the new campus, and the internal spaces of the protected structures were sympathetically refurbished by Collen Construction Ltd, the contractors who built the new campus. The end result is a unified singular building that sits in harmony with the local community and environment; decisive, historic, contemporary. The project represents the very best in construction, fit-out and refurbishment and is widely celebrated as a national and international exemplar of brilliant architectural preservation, integration and regeneration.
Awarding Winning Campus
The excellence in the design by McCullough Mulvin and the restoration of the building were recognised by the awarding of joint first place to the new campus, with Derry’s Guild Hall, in the Irish Georgian Conservation Awards 2014. The new campus was also awarded Educational Project of the Year in the Irish Construction Awards 2014. The judging panel awarded this category to Collen Construction Ltd based on the sensitive conservation restoration works that were involved in creating one of Ireland's largest further education institutes using traditional building methods and craftsmanship.
In 2015 the building was nominated in the Building Project of the Year category at the Irish Building and Design Awards 2015 and was shortlisted for a Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) award in June 2015.