For this state-of-the-art addition to the Birmingham City University (BCU) campus, our multidisciplinary services delivered the award-winning project within budget and within programme. We achieved this through excellent working relationships with both client and design team and clear communication of procedures, requirements and aspirations that drove out risks at an early stage of the project.
The 24,300m² Curzon Building was the second phase of BCU’s City Centre Campus expansion and our prior experience on adjacent projects provided us with a detailed knowledge of key local constraints, including ground condition, drainage, traffic, ecology and archaeology.
The Curzon was conceived as the symbolic front entrance to the University with two wings of accommodation, linked by a central glazed atrium, and a definitive public elevation. For the multi-storey elements of each wing, we designed a hybrid concrete/steel framed structure supported on piled foundations in response to the sloping site and variable nature of the fill beneath the building footprint.
Other innovations included the provision of a steel ‘sky beam’ cantilevered of the main concrete structure, to achieve the framing of the main entrance envisaged by the architect, and exposed concrete soffits and thermal mass to assist the building’s environment. Together with other initiatives, including the diversion of a major public sewer and a large biomass pit adjacent to the building, this helped the building achieve a required BREEAM Excellent rating.
Central to our approach was the use of Level 2 BIM throughout the design and construction process to coordinate all structural, architectural and service designs. This significantly reduced potential clashes, saving around £250k on the overall project costs.
The project also incorporated the refurbishment of the Eagle & Ball public house to form part of the new student union facilities. This required extensive negotiations with the local Heritage Officer to agree the case for demolishing out-buildings and remodelling elements of the main Grade II listed building.
The finished building now houses the Birmingham City Business School, the faculty of Education, Law and Social Sciences and the University Directorate and is a central feature of the wider City masterplan for regeneration of the Millennium Quarter. It combines the student union and student services in a single support hub and includes a new library, lecture theatre, teaching and IT facilities in an environment that supports and enhances the student experience.
At the RIBA Awards in 2018, the Conservatoire was awarded in the following categories: RIBA West Midlands Building of the Year, RIBA National Awards 2018, and RIBA West Midlands Award.