John Madin, Central Library Architect, kicks Council butt in the Post

"The City of Birmingham deserves a fine civic and cultural centre. The concept has been clearly set out in the master plan for the whole of the civic centre and the design of the library and approved by the city council but Coun Whitby and Mr Clive Dutton appear to be determined to destroy the civic and cultural centre in favour of promoting commercial development. " [link]

5 comments for “John Madin, Central Library Architect, kicks Council butt in the Post

  1. dp
    9 October 2008 at 9:43 pm

    It’s pretentious of him to say that 5000 people use the library every day, to claim that that building alone is the civic heart of the city, and that the former atrium is an exemplar of connectivity. He also conveniently neglects to mention the woeful lift, escalators and toilet facilities. So while he might be right on other counts, particualrly the money and the failures of development and maintenance, that particular letter sounds like sour grapes, and fails to persuade.

  2. 10 October 2008 at 2:05 am

    I’ve no idea about the actual visitor numbers, but it doesn’t have a lot of competition number-wise for being the ‘civic’ heart of the city – possibly the museum could match it for footfall, but what else?

    Lifts, escalators and bogs could be sorted without recourse to the wrecking ball surely?

    I’m biased, to me it’s a very poor show if we can’t sustain one piece of modernist architecture in the city — if it’s not to be a library in future, it’s still a wonderful piece of sculpture.

  3. dp
    10 October 2008 at 3:29 am

    The civic heart is about more than numbers, and from my perspective it’s the extensive set of spaces where people go to hang out, stroll around, and generally enjoy themselves. I’m thinking library steps, Victoria Square, New Street, St. Philip’s, bits of the Bullring and Corporation Street. It would include buildings where civic activities occur, such as Town Hall, Council House, BM&AG, and extending to all manner of sites, like Aston Uni, Brindleyplace, and Digbeth. Madin’s building as it stands is an obstacle to those activities, along with Paradise Circus/Queensway and the Copthorne. Knocking it down wouldn’t fix that bottleneck. Knocking down the Copthorne and burying the Queensway would. Getting rid of the inner ring road would make a lot more spaces available for social interaction, conviviality, civic pride, casual exploration, and coherence of the centre.

    Madin cannot take credit for Birmingham’s heart. He’s overstated his contribution. But perhaps if attention were turned away from the library, the Council executive would repair the surrounding damage, and give that corner of town a better claim to the heart.

  4. 10 October 2008 at 3:44 am

    I agree — although not possibly about Aston Uni being in the city centre — I’d love to get rid of the Copthorne and accompanying rubbish.

    Brum city centre is sprawling, it’s really lack of connectivity and transport links around it that creates the problems.

  5. Barnard
    10 October 2008 at 10:27 am

    Radio 4 has a program today at 11am called “Listed”

    Which covers the Central Library issues


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