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Convention Centre Dublin – a talking pint?

Positioned on the banks of the River Liffey, The Convention Centre Dublin is Ireland’s first ever purpose-built, world-class convention facility – even if it has been likened to a giant glass of Guinness. Sarah Rushton-Read reports

The Convention Centre Dublin (The CCD), a €380 million investment, is an exceptional building architecturally, aesthetically and functionally. Designed by Pritzker award-winning, Dublin-born architect Kevin Roche (of Kevin Roche, John Dinkeloo and Associates, USA), The CCD is the latest addition to Dublin’s impressive collection of ‘starchitect’-designed buildings.

A Public Private Partnership agreement was drawn up between the Irish government’s Office of Public Works (OPW) and Spencer Dock Convention Centre Dublin to design, build and operate The CCD; Construction Management Partnership (CMP), a joint venture between Treasury Holdings and John Sisk & Son, was engaged as design and build contractor.

The first thing anyone notices as they approach The CCD from any direction is the huge, tilted glass cylinder – 54m high and 39m in diameter – that intersects the imposing Rosa Perrino stone-clad walls of the river-facing facade. Described by Dublin taxi drivers as a huge pint of Guinness, the glass atrium floods the internal foyers and landings with natural light and, at night, integral LED light transforms it into a huge colourful beacon.

Inside, the building is packed with cutting-edge performance and communications technology. Among its 22 rooms, The CCD features a plush, state-of-the-art, 2,000-seat auditorium and 4,500sqm of exhibition space and banqueting facilities. It can as comfortably accommodate a meeting of eight as it can a building-wide event for 8,000 people. Each room can function in isolation or in concert with any combination of others, via the building’s extensive communication networks.

The project was designed and specified by Theatre Projects, which worked in close association with the architects, infrastructure installers LSI and production lighting specialists Cine Electric. With a technical budget of €12 million, of which infrastructure was about €9 million and pure furniture, fixtures and equipment €3 million, no technical stone has been left unturned.
Networking event
Unsurprisingly then, The CCD is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of technological delights – visible and hidden. Lee Forde, technical director for the venue (and previously production manager to The CCD’s management consultancy the NEC Group), says: “The design rationale behind The CCD is quality and flexibility. The extensive network capability comprises wired and wireless systems, radio and infrared. All rooms feature outlets for DMX, EDMX, wireless DMX, radio and remote controls, fibre optic network and analogue tie lines. An extensive Cat5 system, currently used for control, also circumnavigates the building. Interconnectivity throughout The CCD is therefore only restricted by the end user’s imagination.”

Currently the fibre optic network is used for digital audio and video, and the Cat5 systems for control. There’s a comprehensive copper network of tie lines to accommodate analogue control as well. Forde explains the reasoning for such a broad spectrum of options: “The technology we have, such as the DiGiCo SD7 digital mixing console, is so cutting-edge that many local techs or freelancers may not yet be trained on them. We therefore stock an analogue console. Plus, of course, many clients still prefer an analogue solution. To offer them maximum flexibility we wanted to ensure total connectivity throughout the building, with plenty of redundancy.”

Tom David, project manager for Theatre Projects at The CCD, continues: “We’ve taken the technical infrastructure and systems as far forward as we can. If clients want to relay pictures from the auditorium to screens downstairs, or if they want a question and answer between two spaces, it’s absolutely no problem. Our aim was to equip the operators with the most forward-thinking, rock-solid technical infrastructure – for today and into the future. The equipment we have specified is therefore a combination of known and trusted brands complemented by new technology.”

In terms of lighting, local company and ETC distributor for Ireland, Cine Electric, provided specialist lighting infrastructure. Later the company also secured the contract to provide specialist lighting fixtures. Paddy O’Toole, director of Cine Electric, explains: “We worked closely with Lee and his team from the NEC to deliver the most fit-for-purpose, up-to-date, efficient lighting system possible. This includes ETC Sensor dimming and control solutions, an extensive and sophisticated ETC Unison Paradigm house and worklight network and control, Philips Selecon and ETC conventional fixtures and a comprehensive Martin Professional moving-light package.”

Main auditorium
For the main auditorium Cine installed a total of 179 3kW and 11 5kW Dual Sensor dimmer modules, plus 82 2kW and 11 5kW non-dim modules. Data can be conveyed across any of the networks mentioned previously as the system simultaneously sits on the fibre optic, Cat5, Ethernet and RJ-45 networks. It also provides for wireless DMX connectivity in key areas.

For the two exhibition/banquet halls – The Liffey and The Forum – there are 104 ETC Sensor 3kW dimmer modules and 62 non-dims. Lighting control in both comprises a main ETC Congo 3000, plus two Congo Jrs for mid-sized events or back-up, two Congo Jrs with Master Fader Wing, plus two ETC SmartFade 1248 consoles for back-up or smaller events. For ease of focus, Cine also supplied Congo wireless remote focus units for
each space.

House and worklights throughout the building are taken care of by an ETC Unison Paradigm system. This interfaces with the operators and staff of the building on a number of levels. There are three master control panels, one in each of the three main spaces, two portable master control panels, 54 locally zoned control panels distributed around the building and eight cleaners’ control panels. Each is programmed and programmable to offer optimum lighting environments for their purpose.

In addition, the larger meeting rooms feature 24-way wall-mounted ETC SmartPack dimmer rack and wireless DMX capability. O’Toole says: “ETC was with us every step of the way on this project and advised us on the design and installation of this huge system. We rely on their extensive back-up and support every time we scale up our operation. The CCD has been our biggest contract to date.”
Let loose
Cine provided an extensive loose equipment package that includes numerous conventional and low-energy fixtures from Philips Selecon and ETC. It also provided a comprehensive moving-light package from Martin, comprising MAC III Profile with MAC III Performance modules, MAC 700 Wash, MAC 700 Profile, MAC 575 Krypton and MAC 301 LED washes. In addition there’s even a choice of dedicated moving-light console in the form of an Avolites Pearl 2010 or a Whole Hog 3 and fader wing.

Mike Walker, sales director UK for Martin, says: “This is the culmination of three years’ work. The CCD has a strong emphasis on quality and performance value, reliability and sustainability, these were key features we were asked to deliver on. Alongside that our fixtures had to be applicable to numerous types of events in a multitude of settings. Quite a tall order but one I feel we’ve fulfilled.”

Audio, communications and AV infrastructure plus loose equipment were supplied and installed by LSI. Andrew Nu, project manager for LSI, discusses: “We worked with Theatre Projects for over a year on the design before we even got to site. The choice of equipment was made in conjunction with TP and building operators the NEC Group. DiGiCo desks were chosen as the digital platform and Midas for analogue. The main desk for the main auditorium is the DiGiCo SD7 complemented by a DiGiCo SD8, which can either be used when a simpler desk is required or in conjunction with the SD7 as a monitors desk. There’s also an SD8 for each of the exhibition halls. However we have a Midas Legend console available to any client who wishes to use an analogue platform and the larger meeting rooms use Midas Venice 240s.”

Loudspeaker systems throughout the building are d&b, and both the d&b systems and the DiGiCo consoles allow for remote monitoring. Each of the PA systems in the venue was bespoke designed by d&b alongside LSI and Theatre Projects to deliver the highest quality solution.

Equally high spec are the stage engineering and overstage flying systems in the main auditorium and exhibition/banqueting rooms – designed, engineered and installed by Unusual Rigging in response to Theatre Projects’ brief.

In total Unusual Rigging installed 54 counterweight-flying sets. In addition, to enable easy flying of heavy lighting bars, the company installed a load-bearing traveller grid (2.5kN/sqm), which spans the entire stage. A Dual Gala Spiralift orchestra pit elevator system plus easy to fit and remove modular orchestra pit rail and FOH loudspeaker hoists have also been provided. Control is via a bespoke Kinesys system.

Expo halls
In the expo halls, supporting a series of flown trusses, Unusual Rigging fitted 132 Liftket chain hoists built to the German D8+ standard, which means they can be used to suspend a load above an audience without requiring a secondary safety system.

There’s no doubt The CCD is one of the most comprehensive and technologically equipped convention facilities in Europe. The venue opened on 7 September to an already packed schedule of events and with a well-trained and experienced full-time staff of 250. By hitting the ground running, over the coming months the building will put its systems, staff and equipment through their paces and quickly start to build The CCD’s reputation as a top European destination for conferences and events.



  • ETC Congo 3000 lighting control board
  • ETC Congo (back-up)
  • Avolites Pearl 2010 console
  • High End Systems Wholehog 3 console system
  • ETC Sensor 3kW and 5kW dimmers and non-dims
  • ETC Source 4 Zoom profiles
  • Selecon Arena Zoom 14/32 2.0/2.5kW profiles 
  • Selecon Arena 7/60 2.0/2.5kW fresnels
  • Robert Juliat Victor 1.8kW MSR follow spots 
  • Selecon Rama 1.2kW fresnels 


  • DiGiCo SD7 and SD8 consoles
  • TC Electronic M3000 multi-effects processor
  • Klark Teknik DN360 graphic equalisers
  • Klark Teknik Square One dynamics processors
  • d&b Q7, Q10 and E8 loudspeakers
  • d&b Q Subs and D series amplifiers
  • ClearCom 4-channel intercom system
  • Braehler infrared interpretation system



  • ETC Congo Junior plus ETC smartfade console
  • Selecon Arena zoom and Selecon Arena fresnel
  • ETC Source zoom profile
  • Par 64 long Nose Par cans x 12 1000 watt CP62
  • ETC Sensor dimmers
  • Avolites ART 2000t power cube
  • Thomas Pixel pars
  • Martin Mac Krypton lamp


  • d&b Q1 and E12 speakers, Q Subs, E3 speakers and M4 monitor wedges
  • Midas Venice console
  • TC Electronic M3000 multi effects processor
  • Klark Teknik DN360 graphic EQ and Square One dynamics processor
  • Clear-Com 2-channel main station and hard wired units


  • Christie Roadster HD12k and HD8k projector
  • Analog Way Pulse LE switcher and preview monitor
  • Sony DVPNS708HS DVD player



  • Christie Roadster HD12k projector
  • Front Projection Screen 6.222m x 3.5m (16:9)
  • Analog Way Pulse LE switcher and preview monitor
  • Sony DVPNS708HS DVD player
  • Pro Hard Disk DVD player/recorder


  • d&b Q1, Q10, Q7 and E12 speakers
  • d&b Q subs
  • Midas Venice console
  • TC Electronic M3000 multi effects processor
  • Klark Teknik DN360 graphic EQ and Square One dynamics processor


  • ETC Sensor dimmers and non-dims
  • ETC Congo Junior with ETC Smartfade as backup
  • Avolites Pearl 2010 console
  • ETC Unison Paradigm worklight and house light control
  • Selecon Rama Fresnels
  • ETC Source 4 zoom profile
  • Thomas Pixel pars 575W10 – 85º
  • Martin Mac 575 Krypton lamp