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Birmingham hearts AJ

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To Birmingham, for a nose around the site of Mecanoo’s vast new Library of Birmingham with Mike Whitby, leader of Birmingham council and Francine Houben of Mecanoo

Whitby was on ebullient form, swatting away questions about the wisdom of spending £188m on one library – due to open in 2013 – when more than 400 are currently at threat of closure nationwide.

‘Culture is catalytic to regeneration; this library opens up the way for us to knock the old library down, and the private sector wants to develop a £500m scheme there that would generate 15,000 jobs.’

Whitby turned the schmoozing up to 11 when Astragal asked what sort of things local people would be able to see in the library: ‘We have two-and-a-half million photographs that capture the social history of the industrial revolution… and we’ll have the Architects’ Journal.’

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