IRVINE HALL: Requiem…Re-birth…Reprise…

Requiem: Dirge or hymn for the repose of the dead

Reprise: Repetition of an earlier part of a piece of music

The first modern hall of residence opened at the University College of the West Indies (UCWI) was Irvine Hall, which took its first students in the 1950-51 academic year. In August 2016, life at Irvine Hall as lived over the past 65 years, comes to an end with transfer of all students. But after the requiem  there is to be a re-birth…and a little bit of a reprise. After a year of construction, a new Irvine Hall is expected to arise from the rubble of the old. And what will help connect the old to the new are a few of the features which Irvinites have long considered the essence of their Hall; especially the original Dining Hall – now a covered meeting place; and The Spine, a concrete pathway connecting every element of the hall, which has been described as the hall’s Parliament and heart.

The original design was arguably the most successful of the hall designs submitted by original University Architect Graham Dawbarn and built by contractor Higgs & Hill in the late 1940s/early 1950s. The other halls of the period were Taylor, Chancellor and Seacole.

Hall design by Norman & Dawbarn architectural firm, from 1953 Architectural Review
Hall design by Norman & Dawbarn architectural firm, from 1953 Architectural Review







2016/17 Hall Chair, Political Science major Steven Gardiner, talked a little about the hall while looking back across the Spine and rooftops from the 3-storied Freshers Block.

Photographer Jeremy Francis volunteered to help document the now largely quiet hall before it disappears in its present incarnation. The images in this slide show are a gift to Irvinites from across the years; though we would also be happy to carry images of its beginning if you have them to share.

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Watch out next time as we”ll follow up with a reminiscence from an early Irvinite!

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