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A design for life

The design concepts for the new £193 million Library of Birmingham by Dutch architects Mecanoo Architecten were unveiled today.

The Library of Birmingham, opening in 2013, will occupy a prime site on Centenary Square, the city’s largest public square, acting as the flagship for the regeneration of Birmingham. The Big City Plan is one of the most far-reaching city centre development project ever undertaken in the UK. It aims to drive forward the next 20 years of development in central Birmingham to revive and open up whole areas of the city with a £17 billion investment and plans to create 43,000 jobs for Birmingham people.

The project will be managed by Capita Symonds and built by Carillion. Construction work is due to start on site in 2010.

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said today: “The new Library of Birmingham will be an iconic landmark, and a testament to the role Birmingham will play in the 21st century as a truly global city. The new designs are further evidence of our intention to attract world-class architects to work with the City, and these designs support our ambition to create a building which will bring people together, nurture creativity, allow far greater access to our cultural heritage, and act as a focal hub within the city and the region.”  

Brian Gambles, head of Birmingham Library Service said: “Libraries represent the memory and identity of a city. Today, as a global city, Birmingham needs its new library to encapsulate its soul, its optimism and its rich culture and to meet the demands of a progressive library service for all.”

The current Birmingham Central Library, opened in 1974, is one of the busiest public libraries in Europe. With over 1.5 million visitors a year, almost five million books issued each year and over five million items in its archives, the Central Library has now outgrown the current facilities. The new 31,000 sq metres building will provide 20 per cent more space than the existing Birmingham Central Library and will be capable of taking up to 10,000 visitors a day.

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