Plans for major modernisation works to the Council House complex and redevelopment of Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery have taken a step forward with a contractor-led design team being appointed to conduct a feasibility study for the project.
Birmingham City Council has appointed contractor, Bouygues and a design team led by local practice Associated Architects – working with conservation architects Rodney Melville & Partners and Hoare Lea M & E Engineers – to carry out the study looking at how the works should be carried out, with a final report due in June 2018.
Bouygues (formerly Thomas Vale Construction) were selected via the Constructing West Midlands framework and Associated Architects were appointed following a tender process to select a practice with a strong track record in dealing with cultural sector heritage projects.
The Grade II* listed complex – comprising the Council House, which was built in 1879, and the Council House Extension, built in 1911 – requires major improvements, in particular the upgrade of its electrical and mechanical installations.
Alongside the council’s functions, the historic buildings also house the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, which has one of the three great regional museum collections in the UK and is visited by more than 750,000 people a year.
The need to renew the complex’s infrastructure presents a unique opportunity to create a new museum for the city fit for the 21st century – including a new children’s museum, community gallery and larger learning suite. Birmingham Museums Trust will work with community groups and experts to rethink the city’s collection and showcase it in new, exciting ways to attract young, multicultural audiences and international visitors to the city.
Cllr Ian Ward, Deputy Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The appointment of Bouygues and their design team led by Associated Architects, is the next step towards progressing the much needed modernisation of these buildings.
“As well as updating the Victorian infrastructure of the Council House, this provides a once in a lifetime opportunity for Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery to be redeveloped as an international destination which reflects the city’s stories to the world.”
The works will allow Birmingham Museums Trust, on behalf of Birmingham City Council, to progress with plans to submit a major Stage 1 bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund in late 2018 for support of the redevelopment project, followed by a Stage 2 bid in 2019.
Ellen McAdam, Director of Birmingham Museums Trust, said: “This appointment is an important step towards creating a new Museum for Birmingham. We look forward to working with Birmingham City Council to deliver the project. We can now begin fundraising in earnest.
“The Birmingham Museums’ team will be working hard to take the project to the next stage. We will continue to engage with local communities to showcase the city’s world-class collection. We aim to reimagine this great historic collection for the young, diverse Birmingham of the 21st century.”