Birmingham's newest sports centre reaches the top

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Construction of the University of Birmingham’s new sports centre hit new heights this week as the building was officially ‘topped out’ on Wednesday (March 4).

The centre, on the corner of Bristol Road and Edgbaston Park Road, has now reached its highest point, and together with contractors Interserve, the University marked this milestone by filling a time capsule with a selection of sporting memorabilia to illustrate a snapshot of sport at Birmingham in 2015.

The capsule, which includes a playing shirt from the current season, a National Badminton League fixture programme, a fitness class brochure and photos of the University’s first teams across all sports, will be incorporated into the atrium area of the centre when it is complete.

As a new gateway to the University’s campus, it will be a multi-sport and fitness hub for students, staff and the local community. The new £55m building, comprising a unique combination of facilities, will include Birmingham’s first 50m swimming pool, large and small multi-sport halls, a range of activity and fitness studios, an extensive fitness gym, six glass-backed squash courts and a performance & wellbeing centre. It will open its doors in early 2016.

In addition to students, it will cater for around 3,000 community and alumni members, a range of community clubs and groups, and expanded fitness class and learn to swim programmes. Substantial effort has been made to ensure all facilities are as accessible as possible for those with disabilities, injuries or other specific access requirements including rehabilitation from injury and illness.

The centre soars 18.5m above the Bristol Road now its frame is in place – but also reaches a depth of 6.3m to house the 2m deep pool, which will be divisible into two smaller pools, and has a moveable floor to alter the depth, for activities such as swimming lessons.

Zena Wooldridge, Director of Sport at the University, said: “Today’s topping out ceremony is a very tangible milestone in what is a 6 year journey for this project, and marks around a year to its opening. Even those of us who have worked so closely with the design are now appreciating its scale. The gym we’re standing in now is 62m long, and a central spot to view the 50m pool to one side and the rapid growth of the sports halls and squash courts on the other side. You can start to imagine how this building will become a vibrant hub of activity for our students, university staff and local residents of all ages”.

Simon Walton, Project Manager at Interserve Construction, said: “We are proud to be developing a centre of sporting excellence in collaboration with the University of Birmingham. The centre is important for the future of the university, and also to the City of Birmingham and the West Midlands as a whole, providing much needed facilities that will attract the best in class from around the world.”

The project has been supported by Sport England who are investing £2m of National Lottery funds into the project as part of its Olympic legacy Iconic Facilities fund.

The University’s Development, Alumni and Business Engagement department have also been welcoming additional support from alumni and friends of the University. There is still time to support the project and gifts made now will have real impact as the building progresses and the facility is brought to life. 

ENDS

Notes to editors

  • Photo caption: L-R Chris Hale, Divisional Director, Interserve, Zena Wooldridge OBE, Director of Sport, University of Birmingham and Professor Sir David Eastwood, Vice-Chancellor, University of Birmingham with the time capsule at the topping out ceremony.
  • Download high resolution images of the building and the ceremony.
  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 4,000 international students from nearly 150 countries.
  • The University is in the midst of one of the most exciting and transformational campus redevelopments since the first phase of building on our Edgbaston campus was completed in 1909 under the auspices of Sir Aston Webb.
  • The development projects, worth close to £400 million over the next five years, will create outstanding new facilities which will benefit students, staff, visitors and the local community – whilst drawing on Aston Webb’s original campus masterplan, as well as subsequent plans, and laying a sound basis for the future.
  • At Birmingham sport and fitness is for all, from absolute beginner to world-class athlete, and there are a wide-range of opportunities for all abilities to get involved for all abilities. Whether it’s joining the gym, trying a new sport or taking part in group exercise classes, there is something for everyone.
  • Each year over 3,500 students join one of the University’s 53 sport clubs to represent the University in regional and national competitions helping to cement Birmingham’s place as a top 3 university for sport in the UK.

For more information, please contact Kara Griffiths at the University on +44 (0)7812 671797