The Library of Birmingham replaced the existing Central Library with a state-of-the-art destination for learning and culture. Located adjacent to Centenary Square in the City Centre, the new library was integrated with the existing and adjoining Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
This was a flagship project for Birmingham City Council and part of their 20 year ‘Big City’ Regeneration Plan. The Library was designed by world renowned architects Mecanoo to capture imaginations and incorporated a number of unique design features, such as the ‘Harry Potter’ central light well rotunda and a ‘Willy Wonka’ glass lift.
The original structural design concept was for a steel frame with significant trusses at various levels. We proposed an alternative design involving post-tensioned concrete floor slabs and post-tensioned concrete transfer walls and arches, which offered substantial improvements to the design (allowing for larger horizontal spans across the public spaces providing better light distribution and additional floor space), as well as programme benefits and commercial savings over the original steel proposal.
We were appointed to construct the superstructure which consisted of two slip formed RC cores with typical storey heights of 5m, and nine post tensioned slabs each with central voids to allow additional light to penetrate the various floors of the building from the glass roof.
The structure’s unusual features presented a range of technical challenges which our engineers highlighted below.