Friends of the Central Library – a manifesto for 2013

The group have called on Birmingham city council to offer the building to potential new users.

1 Although the Central Library was vacated in June 2013 and is no longer a library, the building is still recognised nationally and internationally as a building of special architectural and historical significance1.

2 The building has a strong presence in its location and was carefully designed and sited by the late John Madin to respect its historical neighbours, the Town Hall, Council House, Baskerville House and the Hall of Memory.

3 The Council’s proposal to demolish the Central Library emanates from a decision made in 1999 to comprehensively develop the Paradise Circus site; this policy required all the existing buildings and structures to be demolished regardless of their age, condition or architectural merit.

4 Gradual or piecemeal development is a preferable and more sustainable alternative that makes use of existing buildings and develops unused parts of the site as market conditions and resources allow.

5 There is a growing public appreciation of the Brutalist architecture exemplified by the Central Library and a number of significant Brutalist buildings have now been statutorily listed.

6 A number of student projects has demonstrated that the building could be refurbished and adapted for many alternative uses whilst retaining its architectural significance.

7 Friends of the Central Library has published an Alternative Master Plan that demonstrated the feasibility of retaining the Central Library whilst redeveloping the rest of the site.


1 To adopt a new policy of gradual development that will allow the Library to be retained in the redevelopment of Paradise Circus.

2 To undertake a wide-ranging study of suitable new uses for the former Library building and publish the results.

3 To advertise the former Library on the open market for sale or lease with vacant possession for the purpose of retention, refurbishment and suitable re-use.


Front page photo – Andy Foster.

One thought on “Friends of the Central Library – a manifesto for 2013

  1. If the 1974 library is “brutalist”, then the 2013 library must be “infantileist”.

    The most likely outcome is that these genuines get halfway through demolishing the 1974 entity then the entire commercially-unsound venture runs of out financial steam (as there is not really any great future demand for yet more offices and hotels there) and we are left with a gaping ugliness for ever more. Could call it the Bore of Memory?

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