The Grand Canal Square Theatre (renamed Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in 2012) is a landmark project in Ireland designed by the architect Daniel Libeskind and located in Dublin's docklands. Innovative structural engineering solutions were implemented in the 2100 seat venue to realise the striking angular form of the building within the tightly constrained site of only 3050sqm. The holistic integration of multidisciplinary services provided by the design team partners located in Dublin, Zurich, New York, London and Winchester contributed to the overall success of this substantially challenging project.
The size and shape of the auditorium is driven by the acoustic and theatre operational requirements. The small available footprint of the theatre influenced the size, location and inclination of the tiers. The setout and structural dimensions have to provide optimal sight lines for the visitor as well as during operation resulting in an auditorium box with a rear wall inclining outwards and a slender balcony tier structure. Reinforced concrete and structural steel were used to achieve the required structural performance within the limited structural zone. Concrete-steel interfaces were specifically designed and detailed to allow for constructability and adjustment. The tier's dynamic behaviour was studied in detail and provision was made for Tuned Mass Damper in case the assumed damping of the reinforced concrete structure could not be achieved.
The Front of House slabs are carried by five inclined columns starting from ground floor level and continuing below as vertical columns in the car park basement. An integrated structural and services zone 750mm deep was achieved for the 10 metre spanning, 300mm thick, flat slabs thus achieving optimal balcony tier access and sight lines.
Steel to concrete connection details had to allow for the potentially large deviation between steel fabrication and in-situ concrete construction tolerances, resulting in the use of a saw-tooth connection for the first time in building engineering.