Exciting plans to transform Grade II-listed Municipal Bank welcomed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street

Artist impression of the redeveloped Municipal Bank in Arena Central.

The University of Birmingham’s plans for the Grade II-listed former Municipal Bank on Broad Street have been approved by Birmingham City Council.

The redevelopment is being supported by international construction company and consultancy Mace, and has been welcomed by West Midlands Mayor Andy Street. It is designed by Make Architects and will be the University’s city centre gateway, a central location for community engagement, in line with the University’s strategy.

The former bank was built between 1931 and 1933 as part of a wave of development that replaced the factories and houses that had sprung up around the central canal with a civic centre that included the Hall of Memory and Baskerville House.

The building will be adapted to accommodate a year-round public programme, a new incubator for student and graduate start-up businesses, and a range of collaborative working spaces for research, policy development, and a new Leadership Institute. The Bank’s prime heritage spaces, including the old banking hall and vaults, will be re-opened to the public with exhibitions, events, workshops, performances and a welcoming café.

The aim of the redeveloped building is to reinvigorate the city’s civic vision for the modern day, utilising the University’s role as an anchor institution to bring together multiple stakeholders to address the challenges of our time and deliver inclusive growth for the region. This approach will bring the University’s research closer to people, enabling its work to inform, and be informed by, its audiences.

University of Birmingham Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir David Eastwood said: “This development is an opportunity to redefine the University of Birmingham’s civic role for the 21st Century, bringing our leading edge research into the heart of the city. We are looking forward to breathing new life into this remarkable building and opening it up to the public, leading researchers, entrepreneurs and many more. Once realised, our intention is that this development will be a catalyst for influence and impact, setting the standard for a modern civic university.”

The Mayor was welcomed onto the site for a preview by construction company Mace. He said: “The bank has some treasured memories for me as a youngster and more recently we have used it to stage events. It’s a fantastic building and it is great to see it being brought back into productive use again by the University of Birmingham.

“The work Mace is doing in this part of the city with the bank and the new HSBC headquarters represents a really exciting phase in the regeneration of the centre and I really enjoyed getting an insight to how it is being delivered.”

Simon Dale, director of the Midlands at Mace, said: “Having just delivered the new face of Centenary Square with the brand new HSBC headquarters located next door, it’s a pleasure for our team to now focus on the redevelopment of this important historical site in our city. The University of Birmingham’s exciting new plans will breathe new life into the former bank, allowing the city’s residents to celebrate the heritage on their doorstep, while also seeing first-hand how the University is proactively making a difference on behalf of the region through its ongoing research and development.

”Simon Courtney, Area Director for Galliford Try, said: “We are delighted once again to be partnering with University of Birmingham to deliver this exciting regeneration project at the former Municipal Bank. Having been working at the Arena Central site, adjacent to the bank, for the past three years, we have long been aware of its fantastic potential as a landmark building in the wider development and we look forward to working with the university to deliver a first-class facility for the city.”

Christian Bull, partner for Mills & Reeve [lawyers advising the University of Birmingham] said: “The new site is adjacent to the exciting Arena Central redevelopment and complex negotiations were therefore needed with stakeholders including Birmingham City Council, HSBC Bank plc and Arena Central, not only in relation to the University's acquisition of the property but also regarding its access and use of the building.  We are delighted that the University will have a new home in the heart of the city.”

The formal stone and bronze entrance from Broad Street will be restored to provide a strong civic presence facing onto Centenary Square, which itself is undergoing a redesign, while a new rear glazed entrance is being created as part of the wider Arena Central scheme, facing onto a new public square known as Bank Court. Both will lead visitors through to the ground floor Banking Hall space, which will be the public-facing area for the University.

Project Architect Alice Cadogan from Make, said: “This is such an important heritage building for Birmingham, in good company with the REP, the Library of Birmingham, Alpha Tower and Baskerville House. We undertook lengthy consultation with stakeholders, including Historic England, to ensure our proposals met with their approval while retaining the core identity of Howitt’s original building. It has been empty for such a long time, and we are excited to bring it back into use, especially with the wider development of the area from the Midland Metro Extension to Centenary Square to Arena Central. This part of town will be transformed.”

Glancy Nicholls Architects will be the project architects as the construction phase begins.

Work is expected to start in 2019, with completion due in 2021.

Notes for editors

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