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Queen's Unversity, Lanyon Building

Extensive restoration to the windows of the facade



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In 1849 the Queen’s University Belfast Lanyon Building, designed in Gothic/Tudor style by Charles Lanyon, was completed. It has remained an iconic and much loved building in the heart of the City ever since.

Unfortunately over the past 170 years the façade has deteriorated badly and it became necessary to undertake extensive restoration.  In 2017 the building works to restore the façade to its former glory commenced and Glassmarque was awarded the contract for the window restoration.  It was decided to restore as many of the windows as possible, rather than the usual practice of replacing them with new.  This would allow most of the original frames to be retained, meets with best conservation practice and is much cheaper than replacement.  Glassmarque is the only company in Ireland to undertake this type of restoration. 

On inspection it was discovered that the windows in one half of the West facade were 170 year old originals, while the other half were lattice windows which were installed around 70 years ago.   In the North elevation, facing the Lynn Library building, there were 51 year old lattice windows.  The windows of the façade are ornate zinc lattice and some have shaped tops which fit into trefoil stone surrounds.  Over time they had corroded badly and were covered in thick layers of paint which had spread over the glass.  Many panes were broken and some previous glazing repairs had been badly done.  At some point in the past steel sashes were fitted into some of the zinc windows to provide more ventilation and these had gradually rusted causing damage to the stone façade.  Overall the windows had deteriorated badly and needed substantial restoration.

This was a challenging contract for Glassmarque to undertake.  It involved highly detailed work whilst taking the needs of University life into account at all times.  Glassmarque needed to work alongside other sub-contractors, the project architect and heritage frame manufacturers to solve the difficult issues that cropped up.  For example, many of the zinc frames disintegrated as they were removed from the stone façade and had to be painstakingly rebuilt, re-painted and re-glazed using glass made in the antique tradition.  Where ventilation was still inadequate, the old steel sashes or hopper ventilators were replaced with new bronze frames which were painted and glazed. In the North elevation there were over 100 more recently fitted plain windows which were not in keeping with the facade.  It was decided to replace these with new zinc lattice windows, painted and glazed to match the others in the façade.

Much of this restoration work has now been done and completion will be around March 2019.  The façade will look as stunning as it did in 1849 and should continue to do so for another 100 years. 

Northern Builder article on this project page 40