The ceiling in the Titanic drawing rooms where the ill-fated liner was designed has collapsed.
Only three years ago, developers were considering converting the listed building into a hotel.
The drawing rooms were renowned for their high roofs, open floor spaces and luxury decor that was similar to that of the ship itself — and are a Mecca for Titanic enthusiasts.
They have lain unused by the shipyard for decades and have fallen into a state of disrepair in recent years.
But as interest in Titanic surged before the centenary of its sinking, the spacious rooms hosted exhibitions, a catwalk fashion show, the filming of advertisements and even an edition of the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.
There are plans for the rooms’ refurbishment, but no firm action has yet been agreed to preserve them.
The Titanic Foundation — which is responsible for the building — confirmed that at the end of June part of the plaster ceiling had collapsed.
Concerns have been raised as to whether the building is safe for visitors and there are said to be issues regarding water entering it during bad weather. It is believed that heavy rainfall during June was to blame for the damage .
An architectural heritage company has now been called in by the Titanic Foundation to survey the failing structure.
Work to repair the damage is due to commence shortly, although it is unknown how long it will take to complete.
Back in 2009, developers revealed plans to turn the drawing rooms into a hotel.
At the time, a spokesman for the Titanic Quarter project confirmed that developers were planning to use the drawing room offices as part of a hotel. “The proposed restoration of the drawing offices is part of an ongoing scheme to restore all of the former Harland & Wolff headquarters building,” the spokesman said.
“This listed building is a unique reminder of Belfast's Titanic heritage and Titanic Quarter is working closely with Environment & Heritage to ensure that it is returned to its former glory and that the drawing offices are opened to the public for the first time in their history.
“The principle of public access has been agreed, but the detail is still to be worked out dependent upon the final use of the building.”
It is unknown whether those plans are still being considered.
The Titanic Drawing Offices in the old Harland & Wolff offices were where Lord Pirrie, Thomas Andrews and Alexander Carlisle sketched out their dream for the biggest liner ever built. Two applications were lodged in 2009 to change the use of the building. Developers were said to be considering using the rooms as part of a hotel, but nothing appears to have progressed since then.