Birmingham, the UK’s second largest city, is growing rapidly. The infrastructure is increasing with new Michelin star restaurants, the Bullring center, new retail establishments and modern uses for the city’s historic industrial architecture. With more groups booking the city for meetings, Sir Albert Bore, the city’s council leader, has made big plans for the evolving city. With the help from an international team and the Highbury Commission, more group venues are popping up throughout the city.
The new $293 million Library of Birmingham, designed by the internationally acclaimed Dutch architects Mecanoo Architecten, will occupy a prime site in the city centre within Centenary Square, alongside The ICC and the Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP) and will create an internationally unique center for culture and knowledge within the city.
The Library of Birmingham will be physically connected to The REP and will comprise 10 levels, with nine above ground and a lower ground floor, as well as a suite of conference rooms. The Library will feature a spacious entrance and foyer with mezzanine, the gateway to both The Library and The REP, a new flexible studio theater, a lower ground level with indoor terraces, four further public levels and two outdoor garden terraces. At the summit, a rooftop rotunda will house the Shakespeare Memorial Room, which was originally part of Birmingham’s Victorian library and a panoramic viewing gallery where visitors will be able to enjoy stunning views from one of the highest points in the city.
BIRMINGHAM GATEWAY PROJECT
The revamped Birmingham New Street station will support over 52 million passengers a year and become a world-class gateway for the city by 2015. Its new concourse will be three and a half times bigger than at present. A redeveloped shopping center, named Grand Central, will include a 250,000-sf John Lewis department store, one of its largest stores outside London. In April 2013, New Street reached the halfway point of the project. The concourse and the existing entrances closed and three new entrances opened to form the first half of the exciting new station.
Birmingham Airport is working on its runway extension development, which will increase the existing runway length increase to 9,003 feet. The 1,329-foot extension will allow aircraft to take off from Birmingham with more fuel and fly direct to destinations currently out of reach, such as the West Coast of America, China, South America and South Africa. The $100 milllion development will be open in early 2014, generating spare long haul capacity in the region and help to take cars off the road, saving thousands of unnecessary surface journeys each year. Birmingham Airport currently serves over nine million passengers a year with over 143 scheduled and charter routes. The airport is just nine minutes by train from the city center.