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Centenary Square - A Birmingham Gem!

Centenary Square is located in a prime central position in Birmingham. It is host to many of the City's civic and cultural attractions.

Centenary Square was named in 1989 to commemorate the centenary of Birmingham achieving City Status. 

What we found out

What difference has it made

Passions

History & heritage, Construction & regeneration, Squares and public spaces

Project dates

20 Apr 2019 - On-going

Contact (for more details)

Jonathan Bostock

0121 410 5520
jonathan.bostock@ freetimepays.com

Civic pride
05 Jun 2020 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, the Black Lives Matter Protest in Centenary Square - 4th June 2020

The early stages of the Black Lives Matter Protest in Centenary Square at about 1630-1700.

A fantastic Brummie rainbow crowd turned up in masks covering stern and angered faces, the event went on for much longer but here is a gallery of photos capturing the build up to what was our great diverse city stating it's long established standpoint on all forms of prejudice.

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Birmingham, the Black Lives Matter Protest in Centenary Square - 4th June 2020





The early stages of the Black Lives Matter Protest in Centenary Square at about 1630-1700.

A fantastic Brummie rainbow crowd turned up in masks covering stern and angered faces, the event went on for much longer but here is a gallery of photos capturing the build up to what was our great diverse city stating it's long established standpoint on all forms of prejudice.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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30 passion points
Construction & regeneration
08 Apr 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Boulton, Watt & Murdoch and the construction of the Library of Birmingham

Between 2011 and 2013 the three famous trio on Broad Street, Boulton, Watt & Murdoch observed as the Library of Birmingham was built. They saw it from their then position outside of the House of Sport (the ex Register Office). Using James Watt's secret steam powered time machine they kept popping back until the Library was complete.

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Boulton, Watt & Murdoch and the construction of the Library of Birmingham





Between 2011 and 2013 the three famous trio on Broad Street, Boulton, Watt & Murdoch observed as the Library of Birmingham was built. They saw it from their then position outside of the House of Sport (the ex Register Office). Using James Watt's secret steam powered time machine they kept popping back until the Library was complete.


The Library of Birmingham was built in Centenary Square between January 2010 and September 2013. The architect was Francine Houben of Mecanoo architecten. The main contractors was Carillion and Capita Symonds (Project Managers). It opened to the public on the 3rd September 2013.

Going back in time, we will see the Library of Birmingham as it was being built and as it was being observed by Boulton Watt and Murdoch.

 

Boulton, Watt & Murdoch's view on the 19th March 2011. The pair of cores as the library started to go up.

By the 2nd August 2011, Boulton, Watt & Murdoch could see that the library was almost at full height, but missing the floor that would hold the Shakespeare Memorial Room.

On the 15th October 2011 the cladding started to go up as observed by the golden trio. The circular shapes at this point reached up to just below what would become the Discovery Terrace. The future home of the Shakespeare Memorial Room was beginning to form.

By the 18th February 2012 the golden cladding covered all of the library (apart from the top floor). And the circular shapes based on the trades in the Jewellery Quarter were continuing to go up. Boulton, Watt & Murdoch were fascinated by this.

On the 22nd May 2012, the Library of Birmingham looked almost finished. Was some golden panels missing from the Level 9 cylinder (now home of the Shakespeare Memorial Room and the Skyline Viewpoint). Boulton, Watt & Murdoch were gold and shiny that day.

On the 31st August 2013 and the Library was complete. 3 days open it would open to the public. Boulton, Watt & Murdoch were impressed by what they saw, if a bit too futuristic by their standards. The golden trio would remain in this spot until they were removed to storage 4 years later on the 23rd August 2017.

While the new Centenary Square was developed from 2017 to 2019, Boulton, Watt & Murdoch have not yet returned. There is a spot saved outside of the Symphony Hall foyer refurbishment. They could return later in 2020 (but this could be delayed by the current lockdown / pandemic we find ourselves in). I'm not sure if they will be facing the Library or facing the tram line. Either way, they will have lost the view they had until 2017.

 

On the 12th January 2020 a view of the Library of Birmingham from approximately where the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue used to be. Library Tram Stop had opened in mid December 2019. This was the last day of Ice Skate Birmingham, so before the Star Flyer and Birmingham Big Wheel were dismantled. West Midlands Metro tram 34 with the temporary Christmas reindeer name of Blitzen was waiting at the tram stop.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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60 passion points
Squares and public spaces
16 Mar 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

From the Flame of Hope to the Countdown clock to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games

On Commonwealth Day the countdown clock to the Commonwealth Games 2022 was unveiled in Birmingham's Centenary Square. I was unaware of it until I saw it on Twitter. So headed down to Centenary Square several days later. Here we will also look at the Flame of Hope which was near the Library of Birmingham site from 1999 to 2009.

Related

From the Flame of Hope to the Countdown clock to the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games





On Commonwealth Day the countdown clock to the Commonwealth Games 2022 was unveiled in Birmingham's Centenary Square. I was unaware of it until I saw it on Twitter. So headed down to Centenary Square several days later. Here we will also look at the Flame of Hope which was near the Library of Birmingham site from 1999 to 2009.


The Flame of Hope

Seen in Centenary Square during April 2009 was The Flame of Hope. This was the first day (at the time) that I took a camera around Birmingham and that included in Centenary Square. Behind was the site of the Library of Birmingham due to open in 2013. Also there at the time was the Spirit of Enterprise fountain. Both went into storage before construction of the Library began, where they remain to this day.

In this cropped view of the Flame of Hope towards Baskerville House. By this point the flame had been turned off for a few years.

It looked impressive, with a globe and where the flame was once lit up at the top at the turn of the Millennium, sadly it wasn't to last.

After this, I never saw the Flame of Hope again, as it was removed to storage before the prepatory works for the Library of Birmingham had begun.

Countdown clock to Birmingham 2022

The countdown clock was unveiled on Commonwealth Day during March 2020. A few days later, I had free time, so travelled to Centenary Square to see it. Passing through The Mailbox, while BBC Midlands Today was on, I noticed that they were reporting at it live, so I went to have a coffee in Brindleyplace before checking it out.

By the time I got there, BBC Birmingham was gone. This view from the back towards HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square.

The countdown timer is not on this side. From here you can see HSBC UK, 3 Arena Central, the Municipal Bank and The Cube. West Midlands Metro tram 27 was at Library Tram Stop.

This side view of the countdown clock towards the Hyatt, Symphony Hall and The ICC. With tram 27 to the left.

Now for the first view with the Library of Birmingham. At the time of my visit with 867 days to go.

A more central view towards the Library of Birmingham. 867 days, 4 hours, 47 minutes and 00 seconds.

Popped over to Library Tram Stop for some views with West Midlands Metro tram 27 (OLA lime green adverts). The countdown clock to Birmingham 2022 was to the right.

Close up to the front of the tram with the countdown clock to the right. Would have gone down the path near HSBC UK but it was closed off, so headed back into Centenary Square instead.

Heading around the Hall of Memory, got this view to the corner between The ICC and The REP.

Got one more view from near the Hall of Memory towards the foyer works at Symphony Hall.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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70 passion points
Squares and public spaces
28 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Centenary Square lit up after dark with the Water Jet fountains

Heading back into town from The BCAG, got these views of Centenary Square around 7pm on Wednesday 26th February 2020. Been wanting to see the Water Jet fountains lit up after it got dark. Was very quiet in Centenary Square. Crossing over Library Tram Stop, as roadworks on Broad Street mean you can't walk down past Symphony Hall. Westside seemed quiet for this time of the evening.

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Centenary Square lit up after dark with the Water Jet fountains





Heading back into town from The BCAG, got these views of Centenary Square around 7pm on Wednesday 26th February 2020. Been wanting to see the Water Jet fountains lit up after it got dark. Was very quiet in Centenary Square. Crossing over Library Tram Stop, as roadworks on Broad Street mean you can't walk down past Symphony Hall. Westside seemed quiet for this time of the evening.


Heading out of Brindleyplace, and back onto Broad Street. I headed to Centenary Square sometime after 7pm, after leaving a Birmingham We Are arts event at The Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery. Hoardings on Broad Street, means you have to cross over to the side near Regency Wharf and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham Hotel.

Crossing over Library Tram Stop.

The water jets in the Reflective Pool were lit up red at this point while the Library of Birmingham was blue.

The blue lights were making nice reflections here.

The water jets going up giving off an unique blue tint.

Between the Library of Birmingham and HSBC UK. Looks quite complete from here.

View to HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square with the Municipal Bank and 3 Arena Central.

Tram 23 was heading into Library Tram Stop. Passing the Municipal Bank, future home of a University of Birmingham venue.

Tram 23 comes to a stop at Library Tram Stop. Making a nice reflection from this side.

View towards the Symphony Hall foyer and the Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

Further down as you have the tram on the left and the Library to the right.

Might as well get Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory again while I passed through.

Tram 23 passed the Alpha Tower and HSBC UK as I headed towards Centenary Way, Chamberlain Square and Victoria Square.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown. Now at 1,100 followers. Thank you.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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60 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
11 Feb 2020 - Elliott Brown
Gallery

Events over the years in Centenary Square on what is now the Reflective Pool

Events held in Centenary Square over the years. Seen from the Library of Birmingham, up until before the square was redeveloped, and again after it reopened (not including Ice Skate Birmingham of course). While the water jets are now back on and kids enjoying it again, I will show what has been on this space in the past. These events usually take place a weekends.

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Events over the years in Centenary Square on what is now the Reflective Pool





Events held in Centenary Square over the years. Seen from the Library of Birmingham, up until before the square was redeveloped, and again after it reopened (not including Ice Skate Birmingham of course). While the water jets are now back on and kids enjoying it again, I will show what has been on this space in the past. These events usually take place a weekends.


There was still a stepped platform in Centenary Square back in June 2009. About 6 years after an arsonist had destroyed the Forward sculpture. Made in Birmingham was an exhibition of old photos from the 19th century. It was based on The Birmingham Exhibition in Local Manufactures and Natural History from 1886. This view towards Chamberlain House (demolished in 2018).

The O2 Guru Range was in Centenary Square outside of The REP back in June 2010. Construction of the new Library of Birmingham hadn't really started yet, but was cranes on site. Which had just gone up.

There was Table Tennis tables (Ping Pong) in Centenary Square during July 2011. There was 55 tables around Birmingham from the 8th July to the 8th August 2011 and they were free to play! They were from Ping Brum.

Back in September 2013, 4 Squares Weekender was being held, including in Centenary Square. It was to celebrate the opening of the new Library of Birmingham. Looked like a storm was coming. Banner with the Alpha Tower to the right. There was also an outdoor photo exhibition called the Reference Works. This was probably before the Library has opened, and before my first visit. Plus back then there was long queues to get in, so I waited until the end of the month before my first visit (I now pop in at least once a month).

My first visit to the Library of Birmingham near the end of September 2013 and the Reference Works was still to the right of the new lawn (that's gone now). The view from the Discovery Terrace. I waited 18 days before visiting the library for the first time. It was The Library of Birmingham Photography Project. Showing old photos of the previous Central Libraries of Birmingham, from 1865 to 1986.

Free Hugs passing through Centenary Square in November 2013. It was also Free High Fives. This was when the late Stephen Sutton and friends passed through Birmingham. Sadly he died in May 2014. Near The ICC and The REP.

The Queen's Baton Relay was in Centenary Square during June 2014. It was during the build up to the Commonwealth Games that were being held in Glasgow in August 2014. The view towards the Hyatt Hotel and Symphony Hall. Years before Birmingham 2022 became a reality (they were probably thinking of bidding for 2026 back then).

In September 2014 the Zombie Walk was being held in Centenary Square. Looks at those trees in full bloom. They would be cut down before the regeneration of Centenary Square started. The view from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. Entertainment was by Free Radio.

Back when the Library of Birmingham was open on a Sunday, I popped up when Remembrance Sunday was taking place during November 2014. This was where people would pick up the Poppy Wreaths to lay them at the temporary Cenotaph, or in the Hall of Memory. This hasn't taken place here since about 2016. They moved it to Victoria Square in 2017, and around Colmore Row / Birmingham Cathedral in 2018 and 2019. Although the Armistice Day commemorations returned to the Hall of Memory in 2019 (after the square was completed).

The St George's Day celebrations that took place in Centenary Square during April 2015. There was a fair on at the time. Was several motorbikes to the right. You could also play a 'hook a duck' game and buy some candy floss. In previous years this event had been in Victoria Square.

The WMFS Band was performing in Centenary Square outside of the Library of Birmingham back in May 2015. The Band of the West Midlands Fire Service.

During Armed Forces Day in June 2015, members of the Armed Forces were marching around Centenary Square. This view from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. In recent years, military parades such as this have taken place around Birmingham Cathedral and Colmore Row. They went around the Hall of Memory and past Baskerville House. You can really see the carpet design of the old Centenary Square that has now been lost.

The Caribbean Food Festival was held in Centenary Square during August 2015. The view from the Discovery Terrace on Level 3 of the Library of Birmingham. Boulton, Watt & Murdoch were still in place, and the former House of Sport had yet to be demolished for Arena Central.

Giant Rugby Football on the lawn in Centenary Square during September 2015. This was for the Rugby World Cup 2015. The Big Hoot was also on during that summer as well.

Two years after the 4 Squares Weekender, was the Birmingham Weekender. Seen in Centenary Square during September 2015. This was Lady Godiva.

The Great Birmingham Run used to go down Broad Street long before the Metro extension works. In October 2015, they were preparing the area near the end of the run. The view from the Discovery Terrace at the Library of Birmingham. A Saturday view, as on Sunday the Library was closed, and no one would be able to get a view up here (as the Library opening hours had changed by then). The former Register Office / House of Sport was in the process of being demolished for the 1 Arena Central site (now 5 Centenary Square and not built on to date).

Badminton courts were set up in Centenary Square during March 2016. As the All England Championships were on at the time at the Barclaycard Arena. Behind early works for cutting down trees and for the future Metro extension to Centenary Square (that is now the site of Library Tram Stop). House of Sport had been demolished, but at the time they were calling the site 1 Arena Central (it is now called 5 Centenary Square but hasn't been built on yet).

The International Dance Festival Birmingham was being held in Centenary Square during May 2016. They set up a stage area where dancers would perform their tricks. There was also an old Ford Escort where dancers would jump on fellow dancers shoulders.

The BE Festival was held in Centenary back in June 2016. In this view from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham, you could see this painted mural by An Wei. There was also a market around here, plus drummers called Bloco Louco. They were already doing a test pit around the trees. A mature tree would end up getting cut down a year later in 2017 (all the other trees went as well). But some new trees have been planted since the square was done up (2017 - 2019).

CBBC Live was being held in Centenary Square back in July 2016. This was taken from the no 24 bus I  got toward Harborne. Was part of CBBC's Awesome Authors event. Since I only got it from the bus, that meant I didn't head up the Library to see it from above.

About a week later, but still during July 2016, I saw this from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham. Rogue Play was part of the Tilt Festival - Snakes and Ladders. The next Tilt Festival will be in July 2020. Summer 2016 was one of the last times that you could see the old 1991 design of Centenary Square by Tess Jaray. The bricks would be lifted during 2017 and 2018 for the redevelopment of the square that opened in the summer of 2019.

One of the last things to take place in Centenary Square was Britain's Got Talent during October 2016. Rather that the auditions were probably inside of The ICC at the time. They had set up a screen like this on the back of a lorry one year before this back in October 2015. While the Birmingham auditions do return, they have yet to return to Centenary Square.

This post isn't really about Ice Skate Birmingham in Centenary Square, but during December 2016, saw these Morris Dancers on the paved section between the grass (which had only opened to the public in September 2013). Seen from the Secret Garden at the Library of Birmingham while it was raining. They were from Earlsdon Morris Coventry. The grass and paving here was lifted in 2017 and 2018. The new paving here opened to the public in July 2019. After this when 2017 started, they fenced off the square, and no other events would take place here until the summer of 2019.

For my Ice Skate Birmingham post when in Centenary Square, follow this link: Birmingham Big Wheel and (later) Ice Skate Birmingham in Centenary Square (2009 - 2016, 2019 - present).

This was the first event to be held in Centenary Square since it reopened in July 2019. Birmingham 2022, 3 years to go. Celebrating that it would (at the time) be 3 years to go until the Commonwealth Games would be held in Birmingham in 2022. As you can see they put the logo on the new Reflective Pool. But the fountains were turned off. They were still working around the clock to finish the Westside Metro extension to Centenary Square, which was finally completed and opened by December 2019.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown.

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown.

Birmingham We Are People with Passion award winner 2020

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30 passion points
Art, culture & creativity
01 Dec 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, the Star Flyer in Centenary Square - December 2019

The Star Flyer ride in Centenary Square seems popular as part of Ice Skate Birmingham, the screams can be heard from some distance, I'm sure some of them really, really wish they hadn't gone on it! More photos in the full post.

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Birmingham, the Star Flyer in Centenary Square - December 2019





The Star Flyer ride in Centenary Square seems popular as part of Ice Skate Birmingham, the screams can be heard from some distance, I'm sure some of them really, really wish they hadn't gone on it! More photos in the full post.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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50 passion points
Landscape architecture
05 Jul 2019 - FreeTimePays
Gallery

Opening of Centenary Square in Birmingham - One of the week's highlights!

Earlier this week, the new and totally re-developed Centenary Square was opened in a wonderful ceremony on a beautiful summer's day, quite fitting given the stunning design unveiled and great example of modern architecture with community at its heart.  Great work all involved, in particular Graeme Massie Architects.

Take our post for some stunning photography.

Related

Opening of Centenary Square in Birmingham - One of the week's highlights!





Earlier this week, the new and totally re-developed Centenary Square was opened in a wonderful ceremony on a beautiful summer's day, quite fitting given the stunning design unveiled and great example of modern architecture with community at its heart.  Great work all involved, in particular Graeme Massie Architects.

Take our post for some stunning photography.


We would like to thank all the photographers involved - Karl Newton, Daniel Sturley, Kate Fulcher and Positively Birmingham. Thank you all for allowing us to share your great work.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
01 Jul 2019 - FreeTimePays
News & Updates

Birmingham's Centenary Square is to be officially opened this week!

Centenary Square to be officially opened this week having been completely redeveloped.  Take our post for great insight and a great gallery. Written by Stephen with photos by Daniel - enjoy!

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Birmingham's Centenary Square is to be officially opened this week!





Centenary Square to be officially opened this week having been completely redeveloped.  Take our post for great insight and a great gallery. Written by Stephen with photos by Daniel - enjoy!


The design of the square is unlike any other. The most distinctive and radical feature is the ‘Hall of Columns’, which is a grid of 43 slender columns, each 25 metres tall and poke above the Library terrace level.

Thanks to the columns the square has a three-dimensional feel, to sit within a defined area with a light granite surface and have point lights at the very tip, creating a fantastic ‘constellation of lights’ at night.

They extend to the other side of Broad Street, with one row being located on the pavement right outside HSBC and Municipal Bank, while another row is right in the middle of soon-to-be Broad Street tram corridor.

“Unity, coherence and uniqueness”

This gives the whole area a sense of unity, coherence and uniqueness, a sense of it being one great civic space for everyone to enjoy, and one that sets Birmingham apart from every other city in Britain.

Next to the Symphony Hall and opposite The Rep theatre, there is a large reflection pool, with three rows of water jets for children, animals and adults alike to play with in the summer.

The pool can be drained when large scale events take place on the square.  With a number of places to sit, formally or informally,  and benches acting as a security barrier, the area will become a destination in itself.

What is great about the new square is the trees. There are lot of them!

They are arranged in groves, and these form a series of pocket parks across the square, with benches placed in or around them. Each grove is formed of a single species, bringing a unique atmosphere and colour to its part of the square.

These species include Birch, Maple, Gingko and Flowering Cherry.

All the public artwork taken away and put into storage before the revamp of the square began, are set to return to the square, although some will be located elsewhere.

The ‘Golden Boys’ statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch, will be placed against the backdrop of the Cherry Orchard, near Symphony Hall.

The statue of King Edward VII will remain in its place, while the ‘Industry and Genius’ sculpture is going to be moved closer to the Baskerville House and made symmetrical to its entrance.

A ‘Real Birmingham Family’ statue has been relocated next to the Ginkgo trees grove.

This development is a vital cog in the ongoing regeneration and resurrection of Birmingham as a major international centre of culture, which fits with the Big City Plan.

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40 passion points
Construction & regeneration
03 Jun 2019 - Tom Grunt
News & Updates

“Unity, coherence and uniqueness” - that's Birmingham's new Centenary Square!

Work is nearing completion at Birmingham’s Centenary Square. Take this post by Tom Grunt for a latest update, with a gallery of artists impressions from Graeme Massie.

Related

“Unity, coherence and uniqueness” - that's Birmingham's new Centenary Square!





Work is nearing completion at Birmingham’s Centenary Square. Take this post by Tom Grunt for a latest update, with a gallery of artists impressions from Graeme Massie.


Introduction and Background

In 2014, Birmingham City Council announced, with the help of RIBA, an international competition to find a new design for the tired and, soke would say, unattractive Centenary Square.

An overwhelming 200 entries from across the world were received, of which 5 were shortlisted. The five designs were presented to the public, and to the jury panel.

Graeme Massie Architects were announced to have won in June 2015.

History

The area has been a major public space since the 1920s, but was hit hard, like many parts of Birmingham by the maniacal destruction (read redevelopment) of the post war years.

The creation of the inner ring road in the sixties cut the square off from the rest of the city centre. This was partially corrected in 1989 when the square was given a new lease of life, with a footbridge linking Paradise Forum being built.

The square has been the subject of several different proposals since 1918. The first of which was refused by the government as being ‘too ambitious for a provincial town’, as it included a formal garden, new cathedral, municipal offices and exhibition halls among others.

This wasn’t the last time the government stepped in when we were apparently ‘too ambitious’.

A more modest proposal was later adopted, and even that had only a fraction of it already built including Baskerville House and Hall of Memory, both listed buildings standing there to this day.

The square was given the name Centenary in 1989 to commemorate 100 years since Birmingham was granted city status.

Brand new paving was created by Tess Jaray made to look like a brick carpet and a new fountain called ‘The Spirit Of Enterprise’ was created by Tom Lomax, both of which have now been removed.

Ironically, it wasn’t until the completion of the new Library of Birmingham in 2013 when the ‘brick carpet’ by Tess Jaray could be properly appreciated from the Library’s terrace.

2019 - The New Design

Hall of Columns

The design of the square is unlike any other. The most distinctive and radical feature is the ‘Hall of Columns’, which is a grid of 43 slender columns, each 25 metres tall and poke above the Library terrace level.

Thanks to the columns the square has a three-dimensional feel, to sit within a defined area with a light granite surface and have point lights at the very tip, creating a fantastic ‘constellation of lights’ at night.

They extend to the other side of Broad Street, with one row being located on the pavement right outside HSBC and Municipal Bank, while another row is right in the middle of soon-to-be Broad Street tram corridor.

“Unity, coherence and uniqueness”

This gives the whole area a sense of unity, coherence and uniqueness, a sense of it being one great civic space for everyone to enjoy, and one that sets Birmingham apart from every other city in Britain.

Water Features and Greenery

Next to the Symphony Hall and opposite The Rep theatre, there is a large reflection pool, with three rows of water jets for children, animals and adults alike to play with in the summer.

The pool can be drained when large scale events take place on the square.  With a number of places to sit, formally or informally,  and benches acting as a security barrier, the area will become a destination in itself.

What I really love about the new square is the trees. There are lot of them!

They are arranged in groves, and these form a series of pocket parks across the square, with benches placed in or around them. Each grove is formed of a single species, bringing a unique atmosphere and colour to its part of the square.

These species include Birch, Maple, Gingko and Flowering Cherry, Plane.

The birches form a screen along the western side of the square, acting as a visual and acoustic barrier to Paradise Circus Queensway. 21 of these extend all the way towards Baskerville House.

Below, tall grasses and herbaceous perennials will be planted, creating a sort of an urban meadow, which will be illuminated at night.

A grove of fourteen Maple trees are being planted adjacent to Broad Street and the Hall of Memory. These will turn bright red in Autumn, fantastically contrasting with the twelve yellow coloured leaves of Ginkgo trees located outside The Rep Theatre, together giving the square a beautifully autumnal feel.

Perennial plants such as ferns and seasonal flowering plants will be planted beneath the maples as well as the Ginkgo trees. The Ginkgo grove will have a long continuous bench all around it and clearings inside with informal benches.

Outside of Symphony Hall will be a cherry orchard, a group of twelve mature Yoshino trees arranged within a formal grid, with a beautiful white blossom in early Spring, and green to yellow in Autumn, brilliantly contrasting with the red Maples and yellow Gingko trees.

The canopies of these Cherries will be lit during the night and three granite benches are placed beneath them.

Public Art

All the public artwork taken away and put into storage before the revamp of the square began, are set to return to the square, although some will be located elsewhere.

The ‘Golden Boys’ statue of Matthew Boulton, James Watt and William Murdoch, will be placed against the backdrop of the Cherry Orchard, near Symphony Hall.

The statue of King Edward VII will remain in its place, while the ‘Industry and Genius’ sculpture is going to be moved closer to the Baskerville House and made symmetrical to its entrance.

A ‘Real Birmingham Family’ statue will be relocated next to the Ginkgo trees grove.

CONCLUSION 

The number of alterations to the square, and its vicinity over the years have fragmented the square, making it tired, unattractive and illegible.

This development is a vital cog in the ongoing regeneration and resurrection of Birmingham as a major international centre of culture, which fits with the Big City Plan.

The square will become the centrepiece of the Westside district of the city centre and become a public space of international significance, capable of hosting large events.

But not only that, people will come to the square and be attracted with the cultural offerings within the area. It’ll become a place to meet, socialise and stay, rather than merely pass through.

Tomas Grunt

 

All the following artist impressions are courtesy of Graeme Massie Architects


Graeme Massie Architects


Graeme Massie Architects


Graeme Massie Architects


Graeme Massie Architects


Graeme Massie Architects

 

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100 passion points
Construction & regeneration
04 May 2019 - Daniel Sturley
Gallery

Birmingham, Centenary Square - May 2019

There is a distinctly maritime look about Centenary Square now that the huge poles (masts?) have been installed! More photos in the full post.

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Birmingham, Centenary Square - May 2019





There is a distinctly maritime look about Centenary Square now that the huge poles (masts?) have been installed! More photos in the full post.


Photos by Daniel Sturley

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60 passion points
History & heritage
23 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Inspiration

Objects that used to be at Centenary Square

Here we will look at some sculptures that used to be in Centenary Square, and also a strucuture that was removed before it opened in 1991! The Colonnade was moved to the Peace Garden in 1990. The Flame of Hope and the Spirit of Enterprise fountain were removed in 2009 before the Library of Birmingham was built. The Forward sculpture burnt in an arson attack during 2003.

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Objects that used to be at Centenary Square





Here we will look at some sculptures that used to be in Centenary Square, and also a strucuture that was removed before it opened in 1991! The Colonnade was moved to the Peace Garden in 1990. The Flame of Hope and the Spirit of Enterprise fountain were removed in 2009 before the Library of Birmingham was built. The Forward sculpture burnt in an arson attack during 2003.


The Colonnade at the Peace Garden

Seen at the Peace Garden in 2009, it is now near Ridley Street and Washington Street. Originally built near Broad Street in 1925, it was a Doric Loggia designed by S.N. Cooke and W.N. Twist. It was originally part of the Hall of Memory scheme. It was moved stone by stone to the site of the ruined St Thomas's Church in 1990. The Peace Garden opened in 1992. Work to layout the original Centenary Square started in 1989 and was completed by 1991.

Inside the Colonnade a plaques with messages from peace from different communities and faiths from around the world.

The leaders of the G8 came here during 1998, and a plaque commemorating them planting 8 trees to represent each of the 8 nations. The Birmingham Summit was held between the 15th to 17th May 1998.

The Peace Garden is somewhere to sit for a bit of peace and relaxation, to get away from the stresses of life. Is also flowers planted around.

This plaque on the ground recalls when it was built in Broad Street in 1925, and moved here in 1990.

The Forward statue

This maquette of Raymond Mason's lost Forward statue was seen during a September 2018 open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. The original statue was installed around 1991, but was destroyed by a arson attack in 2003 (it's remains were removed).

The maquette is probably the only survival of the statue also known as the Lurpac statue. The full sized statue was made of fibreglass. I don't really recall seeing it myself.

Centenary Square in April 2009, with the Symphony Hall, The ICC and The REP. At this point the raised area of the square was still there, where once the Forward statue stood. But by 2010 the area in the middle was hoarded off for the construction of the Library of Birmingham. And when that opened, the paving was flattened, with grass around the new library amphitheatre (that grass is now gone with the new 2019 Centenary Square, still to be finished).

The Flame of Hope

Around the start of the new Millennium in 2000, Cliff Richard turned on the Flame of Hope. It was lit for about 2 years before it was turned off. It was still there in April 2009, before the Library of Birmingham was built. I would assume it went to storage where it probably remains today.

The Spirit of Enterprise Fountain

This was by the artist Tom Lomax, made in 1991. Seen here in April 2009. I went all the way around having a look at the Spirit of Enterprise fountain. What a sight to see!

There was three different sides with water coming out of the mouths. This side towards Symphony Hall. There used to be benches around this area too!

The fountain was removed to storage later in 2009, before construction started on the new Library of Birmingham, which opened in 2013. It remains in storage to this day!

The first time I saw it again, was during a May 2012 free open day at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre and this was the condition that it was in!

The only water in it now was rain water! Looking a bit unloved left outside near the shipping containers and old statue plinths with graffiti nearby.

Doesn't seem likely that it will be returning to Centenary Square any time soon. While Industry & Genius and A Real Birmingham Family recently returned, it's doesn't look like this fountain will be coming back! Even the Boulton, Watt & Murdoch statue should be coming back soon!

Lighting grille

Seen in February 2018 was one of the lighting grilles installed in 1991. This one was outside of The REP. It was on of the items designed by Tess Jaray, with the City Architects Design Team and Tom Lomax. Similar items such as benches and railings have all now been removed. This Centenary Square lasted just over 25 years before the City Council decided to change it all over again!

 

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

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Construction & regeneration
20 Apr 2019 - Elliott Brown
Did you know?

The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s

Long before the 1991 Centenary Square, or the 2019 version coming to completion now, the City Council previously had plans for another Civic Square! During World War 2, William Haywood made a model of a proposed Civic Centre that was never to be. Only Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, but the War intervened! The model is now at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.

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The Centenary Square we never got in the 1940s





Long before the 1991 Centenary Square, or the 2019 version coming to completion now, the City Council previously had plans for another Civic Square! During World War 2, William Haywood made a model of a proposed Civic Centre that was never to be. Only Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory were built, but the War intervened! The model is now at the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre.


During my first visit to the Birmingham Museum Collection Centre on Dollman Street in Nechells, Birmingham, in May 2012, I saw this model of the Proposed Civic Centre in what I called the garage area of the collection (full of vintage cars, fire engines etc). Official website here Birmingham Museum Collection Centre. I've been on two free open days so far, mostly the same collection, from what I saw on both visits.

This is what Centenary Square could have looked like, had the design of this model have been built after the end of the War, but it was eventually shelved due to cost and other reasons.

It was made by William Haywood, at the Baker Studios in Erdington in 1941 (while World War 2 was on). The scale is 1" to 12ft. He was a special lecturer in town planning at the University of Birmingham, and it took him 12 months to complete. The model represents a variety of public buildings including a Planetarium, Natural History Museum, and City Hall, as well as extensive gardens and car parks.

According to Pevsner Architectural Guides Birmingham, William Haywood was involved in schemes for the site since at least 1918!

On the left on what is now the site of Symphony Hall and The ICC (completed 1991), it was proposed to have the West Wing of a City Hall, but only Baskerville House on the East Wing was completed in 1938. The circular building in front of it would have been the Planetarium. We only ended up getting one of those in Millennium Point in Eastside by 2001, within Thinktank. The Birmingham Repertory Theatre (aka The REP) was built in 1971, on the left hand side of this model, probably where those formal laid gardens could have been.

At the centre would have been a 'Municipal Tower'. It would have had a nude male statue representing the Spirit of Birmingham. The Council approved the scheme in 1944 (for the City Council offices), and William Bloye made a maquette of the statue in 1948. But the project was abandoned in 1949 for being too expensive.

Formal gardens were proposed for the site that is now the Library of Birmingham, while the wings of the Council offices behind (that never got built), later became City Centre Gardens, and the Civic Centre Estate with the 1960s tower blocks of Cambridge Tower, Crescent Tower, Norton Tower and Galton Tower. Crescent Wharf blocks north of Cambridge Street. They were by the City Architect, Alan Maudsley in 1968. Baskerville House was the only part of this scheme to be built, along with the Hall of Memory. Before the Library of Birmingham was built between 2010 to 2013, the site was used as a car park.

Everything to the left of the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House was never built, due to the War, or for being too expensive. There was another proposal in 1958 by A.G. Sheppard Fidler, with a less formal layout, with water features with municpal office podium on the north side, but that too didn't get built.

A close up look at the Planetarium and the west wing of the City Council offices. It would have looked identical to Baskerville House. There was a Colonnade in the square for many years, which later got moved to the Peace Garden, and there used to be a fountain in the middle too (before my time).

Another view of the west side of the unbuilt City Council Offices. Had it been built, somewhere in this building could have been a Natural History Museum, War Museum and an Opera House. This is the site of The ICC and Symphony Hall. Until 1984, it was the site of Bingley Hall, a bit like an exhibition hall, but it burnt down in a fire.

One last look at the model at the Museum Collection Centre. The classical look may have been favoured in Victorian times, and in the Inter War period, but after the War architectural styles changed, and by the 1960s and '70s we got brutalist concrete buildings like Birmingham Central Library (1974-2013, demolished 2016). And now we have a mix of classical and modern buildings. The Municipal Bank was built on Broad Street in 1933, and that is now being converted for use by the Library of Birmingham. While HSBC UK at 1 Centenary Square, stands on the site of Central TV / ATV, which was formerly a Masonic Hall in classical style (also now demolished).

In 2015, for a time the model was on display at the Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery, a long with drawings on the walls of proposed Birmingham buildings, and those that got built. It was about Birmingham's past redevelopments. This was the last time I saw the model in the museum, but I think I may have seen it in there once before. So the last time I saw it again was at the Museum Collection Centre in 2018.

Photos taken by Elliott Brown

Follow me on Twitter here ellrbrown (over 1000 followers!).

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60 passion points