To say that things are busy in the Dublin architecture firm C+W O’Brien would do an injustice to the hive of activity in their Sarsfield Quay office at 9:45 on a chilly November morning. The offices are deceptively large and well-appointed on the inside seeming much larger than the front of the building would lead you to believe.
Currently the staff is based on one floor, but according to Arthur O’Brien, the principal architect and director at C+W O’Brien, in order to match the staffing needs over the next 12-24 months another floor will be fitted out and opened early next year.
“We are growing exponentially, and we currently have about 40 staff in our Dublin office, with two more joining before Christmas. We have brought in expertise from other practices, including two new directors and some very highly skilled people from some of the other top firms in the Irish market. That hiring is ongoing and by March 2020 we hope to be at 50 staff in our Dublin office”, O’Brien said.
While the expansion of the Dublin office would be good news enough for most architects’ firms, there is more to come in the first quarter of 2019, as the firm expands into the Cork and Galway markets by opening an office in each city, to service current work the firm has won and also to help land new business in both cities.
“We’re very excited to launch these two new offices to help develop what we can offer our clients in Cork and Galway and to also cultivate more work. We will initially be hiring ten members of staff in Cork and a further five in Galway, but as we win new business in 2019, we expect those numbers to grow. We have worn out a lot of rubber on the motorways between Dublin and those two cities over the last 6 months and it will be great to have established teams on the ground in Cork & Galway”, O’Brien said.
C+W O’Brien count most of the largest international funds and developers among their clients and as a result they are busy across many different sectors. Residential in its many forms takes up the largest proportion of C+W O’Brien’s current work, from semi-detached and detached homes in the commuter belt to apartments in Dublin City, with hundreds of homes currently onsite and many thousands more in the planning stage.
The firm is currently working on two ‘crossover residential’ projects – purpose-built student housing – just a stone’s throw from their Dublin office and currently has over a thousand hotel beds onsite, with more to commence in early 2019. O’Brien says that one of the things he feels marks the firm out from competitors is not just the quality of the work, but the speed at which it is processed.
“Two of the larger hotel developments we are currently working on, we took through the planning process in just 8 weeks, the minimum period, which is a phenomenal result. On another, we took an existing grant for permission and increased the bed numbers by 25 per cent, again in the minimum of 8 weeks. We feel very strongly that we don’t just need to do great work, but that we also need to allow our clients to do great work themselves”, O’Brien said.
The firm is currently investing heavily as part of its expansion project, from software used in the design process, to a state-of-the-art project management software which will allow the staff to maximise productivity. At the core of what the firm does is its staff O’Brien says, and his own experience of working while pursuing his training informs his attitude to the company’s CPD (Continual Professional Development) programme.
“We currently have four members of staff pursuing their master’s degrees and we are fully financially supporting that. We have one young man who is pursuing his architectural degree while working here, which we are supporting him in and many others working on various software courses which will really reinforce the capabilities of the office. Education through practice is something that is very true to my heart as I studied architecture in the UK while working fulltime and I saw the benefits of that, not just for me but for the firm I worked with”, O’Brien said.
To help tell the story of what the firm has achieved for its customers, C+W O’Brien has launched a new website cwoarchitects.ie and O’Brien says that reaching current clients along with prospective future clients is a key part to what they hope to achieve
“Our website is a great way to be able to tell prospective clients about the extent of work we are doing across a wide range of project types; from the hotel industry to residential developments, to data centres, to working on protected structures. It’s also a great way to tell current clients a whole new story about the expertise and experience that they need for other types of projects that they are working on”, O’Brien said.
If you are interested in hearing more about the opportunities with C+W O’Brien contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
The expansion in Dublin and the opening of the two new offices in Cork and Galway was announced at C+W O’Brien’s Christmas party last Thursday (7thNovember) to a room packed with over 100 of their clients and colleagues. Check out some of the pictures from the night below.