Took a series of photos of the new Library by Dutch firm Mecanoo which was much more impressive than it looks in shots I had seen previously.
The ample public areas and the book rotunda in the centre of the structure are welcoming. Thankfully the overtly fussy exterior detail (and gold paneling) doesn’t carry on inside too much. I am though skeptical of any new public buildings that are so heavily dependent on lifts and escalators to move visitors around. At least the two roof gardens are beautifully planted with herbs and perennials and allow great views of the city.
The big question mark when it comes to Birmingham is of course the fate of John Madin’s Central Library which is gradually being abandoned and being prepared for eventual demolition. The council spent £188 millions building then new library just a stone’s throw away from Madin’s revolutionary structure. If Birmingham wants to move into the future with statement structures of the likes of Future Systems’ Selfridges 2003 built store, they have to also acknowledge their built heritage already in existence. Not just protect Victorian structures but look back at the more recent past and protect what is important historically and what adds to the vibrancy and variety of the urban experience.
One of the 1970s survivors that is protected, the beautifully proportioned Alpha Tower is under new ownership and it is newly painted and having investment order to make it a destination office block for design conscious tenants. I took a few shots from the base of the tower and also from my hotel room at the Hyatt hotel from the 21st floor, hoping this landmark tower by Richard Seifert and Partners, one of the great office builders of post war Britain.