St James Church in Dublin has recently re-opened to the public following its transformation into a boutique whiskey distillery. Clear Structures played an important role in the renovation by providing structural glass expertise for the project, including the church’s new 14m high glass spire.
The mid-nineteenth century church was deconsecrated in 1964 and latterly used as a lighting store, before falling into disrepair. It was acquired by Irish entrepreneur Dr Pearse Lyons and his wife Deirdre, founders of biotechnology company Alltech, who undertook a €10m refurbishment of the church and converted an adjacent building into a visitor centre.
The original church spire had been removed in the 1940s after becoming unstable. Working with client Topglass, Clear Structures designed the structural glass elements and supporting structure of the new glass steeple. Great precision was required to ensure the stability and exact fit of the slender structure. The fixings were designed to be hidden from sight, to avoid spoiling the spire’s aesthetic appearance when it is illuminated at night.
The spire was designed in four sections and constructed off site in Northern Ireland, before the delicate 7.5 tonne structure was transported to Dublin for installation.
In the church, Clear Structures designed mobile glass balustrades to protect the brewing equipment on show and a bonded glass floor through which visitors can view the interior of the spire. Engineers also designed the exterior aluminium structural glazing for the three-storey visitor centre and the cladding system for the entrance lobby.
The new Pearse Lyons Distillery will brew around 1,000 litres of whiskey a week and is expected to attract up to 75,000 visitors each year.
The project won Best Exterior Project at the Architecture & Building Expo 2017.