Library of Birmingham appointment

7 January 2008

Capita Symonds has been awarded the contract to manage the development of the new £193million Library of Birmingham. The contract is worth up to £3.9 million over the next six years, subject to rigorous performance reviews at each stage.

This groundbreaking library project is to be developed on land adjoining the world-renowned Birmingham Repertory Theatre (The REP), with the library and theatre joining together and sharing a number of facilities to create a unique centre for knowledge, learning and culture. The land now occupied by The REP’s workshop and conference facilities will be redeveloped to create a new medium sized auditorium and related facilities for shared use. There will be ready access between the library and theatre, with shared cafe and restaurant facilities.

Capita Symonds’ contract, awarded after a competitive tendering process, will see the company appointed for up to six years to manage all aspects of the building’s development including managing the design and construction phases.

Mike Whitby, Leader of Birmingham City Council, said: “The appointment of project managers is a key milestone towards delivery of this vital project for Birmingham. I am delighted that Capita Symonds will be continuing to work with the council following Cabinet’s approval of the business case prepared by them. The next step will be to launch an international competition in the spring to appoint a world-class architect who will design the new development.”

A management team led by senior consultants from Capita Symonds’ Birmingham office will work closely with the council’s own multi-disciplinary team to run the project and seek to ensure the new building is built and operational by 2013.

Capita Symonds’ team will include specialist cost consultants and programme managers while Jonathan Goring, Managing Director of Capita Symonds, will take a personal involvement in the project.

David Robertson, Project Director for Capita Symonds, said: “We are delighted to be appointed as Project and Cost Managers on this prestigious project and we look forward to continuing our relationship with Birmingham City Council and the Repertory Theatre and to playing our part in the delivery process of this exciting development for Birmingham. We have been encouraged and excited by the vision and commitment that already surround this project and, although there will undoubtedly be many challenges along the way, we are confident that with the continued enthusiasm and commitment of an experienced and professional team the project will be a real success for Birmingham and one that many people will be able to share in, and benefit from.”

The need to develop a new library was identified when it became clear that the existing Central Library, in Chamberlain Square, was no longer fit-for-purpose and in desperate need of modernisation.

The busiest public library in Britain, attracting more than 1.5 million visitors per year, Central Library was opened in 1973 and over recent years has become increasingly costly to maintain. The design of the building is unsuited to modern day needs. It is inflexible and very difficult to adapt to new technology and patterns of use for learning, information and culture. The new library integrated with The REP will deliver a state-of-the-art new facility, delivering a major boost to Birmingham’s cultural offer and benefiting local people for generations to come.