Library of Birmingham

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Library of Birmingham
LoB 001 20131030.jpg
General information
Type Public Library
Architectural style
Location Centenary Square
Address Broad Street
Town or city Birmingham
Country England
Coordinates 52°28′47″N 1°54′30″W / 52.47972°N 1.90833°W / 52.47972; -1.90833Coordinates: 52°28′47″N 1°54′30″W / 52.47972°N 1.90833°W / 52.47972; -1.90833
Elevation 144 m (472 ft) AOD
Construction started 7 January 2010
Completed April 2013
Opening 3 September 2013; 11 months ago (2013-09-03)
Cost £188.8 million[1]
Client Birmingham City Council
Owner Birmingham City Council
Height
Height 60 metres (200 ft)[2]
Top floor 9 (Shakespeare Memorial Room)
Technical details
Floor count 10 (OG) 1 (UG)
Floor area 20,798m2 (plus 6,804m2 shared with the REP)
Design and construction
Architect Francine Houben
Architecture firm Mecanoo architecten
Structural engineer Buro Happold
Services engineer Buro Happold
Civil engineer Buro Happold
Main contractor
Awards and prizes
Website
www.libraryofbirmingham.com

The Library of Birmingham is a public library in Birmingham, England. It is situated on the west side of the city centre at Centenary Square, beside the Birmingham Rep (to which it connects, and with which it shares some facilities) and Baskerville House. Upon opening on 3 September 2013, it replaced Birmingham Central Library. The library, which is estimated to have cost £188.8 million,[1] is viewed by the Birmingham City Council as a flagship project for the city's redevelopment. It has been described as the largest public library in the United Kingdom,[3] the largest public cultural space in Europe,[4][5][6] and the largest regional library in Europe.[7]

History[edit]

Background[edit]

Birmingham City Council looked into relocating the library for many years. The original plan was to build a new library in the emerging Eastside district,[8] which had been opened up to the city centre following the demolition of Masshouse Circus.[9] A library was designed by Richard Rogers on a site in the area. However, for financial reasons and reservations about the location this plan was shelved. The Council suggested that the Library be split between a new building built between the Rep Theatre and Baskerville House at Centenary Square, which until 2009 was a public car park (to house the main lending library) and a building at Millennium Point in "Eastside" (to house the archives and special collections).

In August 2006, the Council confirmed the area between the Rep Theatre and Baskerville House as the future site for the library. Capita Symonds had been appointed as Project Managers for the Library of Birmingham. The council's intention was to create a "world class" landmark civic building in Centenary Square.[10] Not long after this, the two-sites idea was scrapped and the archives and special collections will move to the site at Centenary Square.[11][12]

After an international design competition, run by the Royal Institute of British Architects, a shortlist of seven architects was announced on 27 March 2008. They were chosen from a list of over 100 architects. The architects chosen were: Foreign Office Architects, Foster and Partners, Hopkins Architects, Mecanoo, OMA, Schmidt hammer lassen and Wilkinson Eyre.[13]

In early August 2008, Mecanoo and multi-discipline engineers, Buro Happold, were announced as the winner of the design competition.[14] More detailed plans for the library were revealed by the council in conjunction with the architects at a launch event held on 2 April 2009.

The previous Central Library failed for the second time to gain status as a listed building. Work is scheduled to begin on demolishing the old library to make way for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus.[15][16]

Reception[edit]

Reaction to the planned library was generally positive. Then-Poet Laureate Andrew Motion said that "These plans are properly ambitious to preserve the best traditional practice, while also opening the building to new ideas about what a library should be—the heart of the community, fulfilling all manner of social needs as well as scholarly, research-based and pleasurable ones." Philip Pullman said "The new Library of Birmingham sounds as if it will be lovely and should attract even more users than the present one with its impressive visitor total of 5,000 a day." Sir Alan Ayckbourn said "I wholeheartedly support the proposed exciting new plans to develop the new Birmingham library" and Irvine Welsh said "[It's] an audacious and compelling initiative which promises to redefine and modernise the entire notion of public library services, and in the process create the greatest public information resource in Europe ... Writers will love it, and so will readers."[17] Architect of the Birmingham Central Library, John Madin, criticised the building as not fit for purpose in 2011. Madin said "They are spending all this money on a new library which is no better than the existing one. Eighty per cent of it will not have natural light and does not meet the standards of the existing building."[18]

Construction[edit]

The interior, seen in the week before opening

Preparation of the ground for building, and archaeological work between Baskerville House and The Rep had begun before planning permission had been granted.[19] Planning permission was finally granted and approved by Birmingham City Council in December 2009. Building work, which was undertaken by Carillion,[20] commenced in January 2010, with a completion schedule for 3 September 2013.[21] A topping out ceremony to mark the completion of the highest part of the building took place on 14 September 2011.[22]

Opening[edit]

The formal opening on 3 September 2013 was conducted by Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived a Taliban assassination attempt, and who now lives in Birmingham.[23] Before unveiling a plaque, she said "Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one teacher can change the world".[24]

Awards[edit]

At the 2014 RIBA West Midlands Awards, the Library of Birmingham was named overall West Midlands building of the year Mecanoo architect Patrick Arends won emerging architect of the year and Birmingham City Council won client of the year.[25]

In the June 2014 birthday honours, the library's director, Brian Gambles, was made MBE "for services to libraries".[26]

On 17 July 2014 the Library of Birmingham was nominated as one of the six short-listed buildings for the 2014 Stirling Prize, awarded for excellence in architecture.

Architecture[edit]

Decoration on the exterior of the building

The library uses an aquifer ground source system to reduce energy consumption. Cold groundwater is pumped up from within the earth and used in the air conditioning system. The water flows back into the ground via another drilled well. The use of groundwater as a source of renewable energy lowers the library's carbon dioxide emissions.[27]

Collections[edit]

The library has a number of nationally and internationally significant collections, including the Boulton and Watt archives, the Bournville Village Trust Archive, the Charles Parker Archive,[28] the Parker collection of children's books,[29] the Wingate Bett transport ticket collection,[29] the Warwickshire photographic survey,[29] the British Institute of Organ Studies archive and the Railway and Canal Historical Society Library.

The specialist Shakespeare Memorial Room was designed in 1882 by John Henry Chamberlain for the first Central Library.[30] When the old building was demolished in 1974 Chamberlain's room was dismantled and later fitted into the new concrete shell of the new library complex.[30] When the Library of Birmingham was built, it was again moved, to the top floor.[30] It houses Britain’s most important Shakespeare collection, and one of the two most important Shakespeare collections in the world; the other being held by the Folger Shakespeare Library. The collection contains 43,000 books[23] including rare items such as a copy of the First Folio 1623; copies of the four earliest Folio editions;[23] over 70 editions of separate plays printed before 1709 including three "Pavier" quartos published in 1619 but falsely dated. There are significant collections from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, a near complete collection of Collected Works, significant numbers of adaptations, anthologies and individual editions.

The Boulton and Watt Collection is the archive of the steam engine partnership of Matthew Boulton and James Watt, dating from its formation in 1774 until the firm's closure in the 1890s. The archive comprises about 550 volumes of letters, books, order books and account books, approximately 29,000 engine drawings and upwards of 20,000 letters received from customers. Boulton and Watt manufactured the screw engines for Brunel's SS Great Eastern and the archive includes a portfolio of 13 albumen prints by Robert Howlett documenting the construction of the Great Eastern, including a rare variant of the Brunel portrait of 1857.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Library of Birmingham: Official opening of £189m building", BBC News, retrieved 3 September 2013 
  2. ^ "Topping out ceremony takes place at Library of Birmingham", Birmingham Post, retrieved 15 September 2011 
  3. ^ "LINDER AND PRATER COMPLETE ON NEW BIRMINGHAM LIBRARY". SpecFinish (Leamington Spa). 21 March 2014. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  4. ^ Booth, Robert (3 April 2009). "Library of Birmingham plans unveiled as recession opens a new chapter for civic buildings". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  5. ^ The British Library in London is larger, but is only open to the public by appointment
  6. ^ "Library of Birmingham on BBC Radio 4". Mecanoo architecten. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  7. ^ "Library of Birmingham: 'It's about more than just books'". BBC Online. 2013-08-30. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  8. ^ Library of Birmingham and city centre park – outline planning application[dead link] – GVA Grimley, 19 December 2003
  9. ^ Birmingham.gov.uk: Spring 2005 Update[dead link]
  10. ^ Capita Symonds appointed as Project Managers for the Library of Birmingham – Press Release by Birmingham City Council (1 September 2006)
  11. ^ "Library plans could be shelved" Birmingham Post (24 January 2007)
  12. ^ *Autumn 2007 update on move
  13. ^ "Library Design Team Shortlist Announced". Birmingham City Council. 27 March 2008. Archived from the original on 10 April 2008. Retrieved 27 March 2008. 
  14. ^ Stewart, Dan (5 August 2008). "Mecanoo scoops £188.8m Birmingham library". Building. Retrieved 5 August 2008. 
  15. ^ "Goodbye Birmingham Central Library". 
  16. ^ "Birmingham Central Library to make way for Paradise Circus development". 
  17. ^ "Top writers celebrate Library of Birmingham's audacity". The Guardian (London). 3 April 2009. Retrieved 9 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Stuart, Paul (21 March 2011). "New Library of Birmingham slammed as 'waste of money' by architect who designed original central library". Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 16 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Building work at £193m Library of Birmingham poses 'safety risk to pedestrians'". Birmingham Mail. 
  20. ^ "Carillion starts work on Birmingham's £193m library". Building. 8 January 2010. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  21. ^ "Work Begins on Library of Birmingham". Birmingham City Council. 4 January 2010. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  22. ^ "New Birmingham library celebrates topping out milestone". BBC. 14 September 2011. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c "Library of Birmingham: Official opening of £189m building". BBC Online. 2013-09-03. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  24. ^ "'Let us not forget that even one book, one pen, one teacher can change the world'". 2013-09-03. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  25. ^ "Library of Birmingham sweeps board at RIBA Awards". Birmingham Post. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 15 April 2014. 
  26. ^ Lillington, Catherine (2014-06-16). "MBE for Library of Birmingham chief Brian Gambles - Birmingham Post". Birmingham Post. Retrieved 16 June 2014. 
  27. ^ "Library of Birmingham - Going underground for ‘green’ energy system". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 12 October 2013. 
  28. ^ "The Charles Parker Archive". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  29. ^ a b c "Collections". Library of Birmingham. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  30. ^ a b c "Shakespeare Memorial Room". Library of Birmingham. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 
  31. ^ "The Boulton and Watt Collection". Birmingham City Council. Retrieved 2 September 2013. 

External links[edit]