The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and Leinster Rugby have announced the launch of an international architectural design competition, the first step in the redevelopment of the RDS Arena, home to both Leinster Rugby and the Dublin Horse Show.
The competition will be for a design of a multi-purpose world class arena that will increase the stadium capacity from 18,500 to 25,000 and greatly enhance facilities, to the benefit of Leinster Rugby home games as well the RDS Dublin Horse Show and all other events and concerts there.
The Architectural Design competition will be administered by the Royal Institute of Architects in Ireland (RIAI) on a two stage basis and will be adjudicated by a five person jury. The jury will be chaired by Owen Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Architectural Science, UCD and Chairman, RDS, Board of Management.
Speaking at today's announcement in the RDS, Michael Duffy, Chief Executive of the RDS, said: "The RDS has been home to Leinster Rugby since 2007 and we are delighted to move on to the next stage of our relationship with them, which is to collaborate on a new stadium development from which both parties will benefit.
"The RDS is already on a world stage as an equestrian and now rugby venue and our ambition is for a world leading stadium with facilities on a par with the best anywhere.
"It is for this reason that we have decided to launch this open competition and to seek design ideas from the best in the world."
The newly developed RDS Arena will be home to Leinster's home GUINNESS PRO12 and European Rugby Champions Cup games and the province's Chief Executive Mick Dawson welcomed the announcement and the opportunities it presents.
"This really is fantastic news for all Leinster Rugby supporters, for the players, management and for staff. We have had some wonderful moments in the RDS over the years but it's now time to look to the future," he said.
"The move from Donnybrook to the RDS in 2007/08 has proved to be extremely successful and it has allowed us to grow as a team. In that time we have won numerous domestic and European trophies while offering an excellent match day experience.
"However we want to move forward and a 25,000 capacity, purpose built arena will allow us to do that and provide us with greater commercial opportunities both within the stadium and with regard to naming rights."
Robin Mandal, the RIAI President, added: "This is a unique process for the design of stadia in Ireland. Never before has an international competition of this nature been held and we are certainly very excited by what we will see both domestically and from abroad."
With a six month time frame in place for the selection of a concept architect, work is not expected to start on the RDS Arena until April 2016 at the earliest. Leinster Rugby will continue to play its home games in the RDS Arena during the redevelopment and the RDS Dublin Horse Show will also continue as normal.
Leinster head coach Matt O'Connor was also in attendance at the announcement and looked forward to the exciting times ahead.
"You only have to talk to the players - they love playing in the RDS. It is their home, their fortress and over the last few years we have been lucky enough to have played some finals at the RDS and for that reason there are special memories attached to the place," explained the Australian.
"But we are also realistic enough to know that we have to move with the times and ensure development of the facilities in the RDS to a world class level and ultimately the players will benefit from that.
"The key challenge is retaining the special atmosphere and experience that the RDS is for the players and the supporters. They feed off each other and it is vital that this element is retained."
Further information on the architectural competition is available on www.riai.ie.