Seamus MacGearailt Profile Photo with Grey Background

Seamus MacGearailt

Technical Director
Institute of Technology Tralee
JV Partner
MRG Consulting Engineers


Roughan & O’Donovan Consulting Engineers (ROD), in joint venture with MRG Consulting Engineers (MRG), was appointed by the Institute of Technology (IT) Tralee to provide civil and structural engineering services for the delivery of the new Kerry Sports Academy building at the IT’s North Campus in Tralee.

This 8,400m2 universally accessible facility houses:

  • the Institute’s health and leisure programmes

  • the National Centre for Adapted Physical Activity (APA) operated by Cara

  • the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation(UNESCO) Chair in Inclusive Physical Education, Sports Fitness and Recreation

  • Comhaltas Ceoltoiri Éireann’s traditional music headquarters

  • Kerry GAA Centre of Excellence

The footprint of the main academy building is accommodated within the Institute’s circular campus, Core Road, with due allowance in the structural design for future vertical expansion and in the civil design for horizontal expansion. 


Phase one of the project involved the construction of a two-storey building comprising an international size main sports hall, adapted physical activity hydrotherapy pool, gym and office facilities.

Consisting of a concrete frame and masonry infill, the building wraps around the sports hall on three sides. Long span pre-stressed double tee beams (up to 22m) form the first floor and roof structures, and they provide the flexible spaces required for the building’s mixture of gym, lecture and dance studio facilities.

The sports hall roof structure consists of long span curved steel trusses whilst curved cellular beams form the roof structure to the hydro-therapy pool.

The phase one structure was designed to cater for a potential future phase two vertical and lateral expansion. This may include the addition of both a second floor to the phase one two-storey section and a full-size swimming pool.

The building incorporates many structural materials including concrete, structural steelwork, timber and masonry. These materials were selected to suit particular structural applications throughout, and with careful interface detailing, assist in delivering strong visual structural elements.

The scheme involved the placement of more than 5000m3 of ready mixed concrete. 

Design features

The building’s structural elements required a variety of off-site structural solutions, including prestressed double-T floor and roof units of varying depths providing clear spans of up to 24m. A combination of precast hollowcore units and wideslab concrete units were adopted for more modest spans, and they provided quick and safe elevated spaces for follow-on trades.

The decision to adopt prestressed concrete to provide clear, long spans was made early in the design process to address vibrations generated by dynamic loads applied by people to the floors used as gymnasiums and dance studios.

The structural floor levels in the area of the building where music will be played were modified to accommodate acoustic layering. The use of prestressed concrete in minimising the building height contributed to minimising the overall costs.


The scale of the challenge the project team set themselves in achieving the required casting sequence, delivery and installation of the precast double-T precast units is evident when the size and number of units used on the project is considered:

  • 76 No. 1010mm deep x 2200mm wide (average) double-T precast units covering 3982m2 (1951 tonnes). Typically, these units spanned up to 24m and individually weighed up to 32 tonnes. They were designed to minimise vibration from dance studios and gymnasiums
  • 24 No. 360mm deep double-T precast units covering 612m2 (190 tonnes)

Close collaboration between the client, the multi-disciplinary design team, the main contractor and the precast flooring supplier resulted in a successful installation.



From an environmental perspective, the use of off-site precast prestressed concrete floors and roofs and prefabricated structural steelwork roof trusses meant that the long spans for many of the sporting facilities within the building used minimum resources. The installed concrete elements do not generate any emissions, they are inherently resistant to fire and, at the end of the building’s lifecycle, they can be recycled. 

From an economic perspective, the design team examined the impacts of our civil and structural options across the entire lifecycle of the project. The choices we made helped to deliver a scheme that truly incorporates a whole-life view of the project.

From a social perspective, in addition to providing significant employment, the academy and the sporting programmes running within it have the potential to strengthen social networks and community identity in Kerry.


Services provided:

Structural engineering design


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