Queen’s Lanyon Building, Belfast

Killowen contracts was ‘instrumental to the success of the Lanyon restoration project’

Killowen Contracts was the main contractor for the Lanyon Project which involved the £5.5 million restoration of the Grade A listed Lanyon Building at Queen’s University Belfast, to the original vision of its architect – the presiding genius of early Victorian Belfast, Sir Charles Lanyon.

The aim was to restore the 19th Century building to its former splendour following deterioration of the fabric. This required replacement of decorative stonework to reinstate significant details; replacement brickwork and repointing; window refurbishment and replacement of inadequate rainwater goods while retaining the patina of age and as much original fabric as possible, ensuring structural stability of the building and protecting against further deterioration.

Technical challenges included sourcing salvaged brick to match the existing 170 year- old brickwork, repointing using bespoke hydraulic lime mortar and careful insertion of replacement stone while highly creative solutions were implemented relating to new rectangular zinc lattice windows and the restoration of corroded windows.

“Such windows have not been manufactured for over 100 years but detailed research and experimentation led to the discovery of the original construction formula enabling reconstruction and replacement,” said Killowen Director, Brian McGivern.

“Indeed, the discovery was quite a story and provided traditional building skills in the truest form as research led us to an 85-year old former foundry worker located in a care home, who, although his memory was failing him, recollected from his teenage apprentice years the exact formula of zinc, tin and lead required for the window heads unlocking a seemingly insuperable technical problem.”

The enthusiasm and dedication of team members was highly relevant in contributing to buildability where there was a clear desire to learn, ensure completion to the highest conservation standards and conveyance of pride in craftsmanship through exceeding individual job descriptions and best practice rather than expediency. Indeed, skilled stonemasons repaired stonework and gargoyles and were also encouraged to replace some items using their own imaginative creations.

“We considered the needs of the client, students, staff and public at all stages. The building is at the heart of University campus and of great symbolic importance therefore work was phased and the building remained open with minimal disruption. The project could have been completed at a lower cost however we maintained best practice through design team collaboration and value engineering to avoid cutting corners.”

All stakeholders were engaged through informative hoarding proclaiming the history of the building, the architect, project scope and a timeline from original construction (1845) to the current day.

From inception, the project was established as an architecturally significant scheme with every opportunity taken to engage staff, students and the general public, demonstrating conservation in action. Everyone in the team embraced this approach taking part in demonstrations, talks, open days and scaffold tours while ensuring adherence with tight deadlines. Beneficiaries included students from relevant disciplines, professional groups and conservation bodies while the building was open for European Heritage Open Days and Open House.

“It is an exemplary project carried out to the highest conservation standards that will stand as a benchmark for future projects. The lessons learned in completing the stone carving and window repairs are invaluable for future heritage projects,” said Brian.

Killowen Contracts recently won the Restoration Award at the CEF Construction Excellence Awards for theis prestigious project.

“Killowen’s management of this complex programme was exemplary – engaging with and considering the needs of QUB staff and students, General Public, Historical Environment Division (HED), Health & Safety Executive Northern Ireland, Conservation Architects and the Design Team,” said QUB Estates Manager, John Devlin.

“The project buildability was greatly enhanced by the highly skilled workforce, procurement of specialist skilled labour, material selection, attention to detail and contract management which collectively resulted in the high standards of finish.”

And restoration specialists, Consarc Design Group described Killowen Contracts as ‘instrumental to the success of the Lanyon Restoration Project’ “From the start it was evident to all that Killowen Contracts and their subcontractor had a sense of pride in their work and were aware of the importance of the Lanyon Building,” said Consarc Design Group’s John Savage.


Killowen Contracts Ltd, 35 Bridge Road, Burren, Newry. BT34 3QT.
T: 028 4175 3378
E: [email protected]
W: www.killowencontracts.co.uk

GFC Services laid carpet tiles throughout approximately 650 sqm of the Lanyon Building at Queen’s University. The Dundonald-based company was delighted to be involved in the refurbishment of one of Northern Ireland’s most iconic buildings.

“It was a special job to be involved in and we are very pleased with how it turned out,” said GFC Services Director, Gregory Forsythe.

“We have an excellent working relationship with Killowen Contracts stretching back over 10 years. Similarly, with every job we undertake, we strive to complete it to the highest standard and when possible, finish it ahead of schedule. The Queen’s job was no different – it was finished to a high standard and on time.”

The carpet tiles have been selected to fit in with the fabric of the building but also provide a hard-wearing covering.

GFC Services works throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic with an eight-man team specialising in all types of soft flooring including vinyl, carpets and wooden flooring.

“The majority of our work is with government departments, schools and hospitals. We carry out a lot of work for the Royal Hospital in Belfast as well as the North West Health and Social Services Trust and the Southern Trust,” said Gregory.

GFC Services was the ideal choice when it came to fitting carpet tiles at the Lanyon Project. Respected within the sector, the company is well known for its high levels of workmanship and ability to deliver a job on time. Operating within such a historical and important building required consideration and sensitivity; Gregory and the rest of the team at GFC Services were sympathetic to the historical nature of the building while delivering a high quality job.


GFC Services: 26 Fort Road, Dundonald, Co Down. BT16 1XR.
T: 0775 1681 352
E: [email protected]

SMcConnell & Sons Ltd used a combination of cutting-edge technology and traditional craftsmanship skills during the restoration of the iconic Lanyon Building at Queen’s University, Belfast.

Stone blocks were sourced from quarries in England before being brought to S McConnell & Sons’ Kilkeel base. There they were cut firstly using a primary saw, then with a secondary saw before a CNC saw was used on some of the more ornate features. Finally the stonework was hand finished before being transported to Belfast. Initially the sections of the building in need of restoration were scanned and measured before deep pockets were cut out to be replaced with the new stonework.

“This was a very large job on what is an iconic building in Northern Ireland,” said Managing Director, Alan McConnell.

“It was a very detailed and time- consuming project and we were at Queen’s for about a year and a half. There was a lot of work especially in the sections around the bay windows where the challenge was to keep as much of the historic stonework as possible but also marry in new stone.

There was also considerable work in the detailed edging of the building which needed tidying up.

“We are very pleased with how the job has gone and we are very proud to have worked on such a prestigious project.”


T: 028 4176 3717
E: [email protected]
W: www.smcconnellandsons.com

Hillside Interiors further cemented its excellent working relationship with Killowen Contracts when it provided a new bespoke reception desk at the newly refurbished Lanyon Building at Queen’s University Belfast. The Kilkeel-based specialist joinery company also provided bespoke library units.

“This was certainly a prestigious job for us to be involved in,” said Hillside Interiors Director, Harold Nicholson.

“We have worked on a number of projects with Killowen Contracts and they are an excellent company to work with therefore we were very pleased to join them on this project.”

Hillside Interiors has been designing and manufacturing luxurious kitchen cabinetry and fitted furniture since 1984. Whether a contemporary or traditional design is chosen, the team is skilled in creating and installing quality fitted furniture, using the highest standards of craftsmanship with great attention to detail and timeless design.

“At Hillside Interiors we source and import the finest timber from Europe to produce superior cabinetry and have an extensive range of door styles to choose from. Our team of specialist craftsmen have extensive experience in fitting granite and solid surfaces such as Corian and Hanex. We also supply and fit kitchen appliances from a range of quality brands which include AEG, Britannia, Quooker and Blanco.

“Hillside Interiors can provide a complete project management service, to include structural modifications, plumbing, electrical and decorative work, if required.”


T: 028 4176 3104
E: [email protected]