[FIRST LOOK] Associated Architects has completed the £25 million overhaul of the University of Birmingham’s landmark 1970s Muirhead Tower
The practice worked alongside Philip Dowson of Arup Associates, the building’s (1971) original architect, on the revamp.
A spokesman for the practice said: ‘While being of exceptional architectural quality, [the tower] had suffered due to the technical limitations of its 1970’s construction techniques and materials with a corresponding poor environmental performance.
‘This had led to the wholesale failure of its glazing system and deterioration of its expressed concrete structure. [Our] design response answers all of these technical shortcomings and incorporates the dramatic rebuilding of the centrally expressed service core.’
The 12,000m² scheme for the University’s School of Social Sciences incorporates a new lecture theatre, exhibition space, student café and improved lifts and staircases.
Describing the practice’s approach, a spokesman for the AA said: ‘New elements expressed in stainless steel and concrete cladding are introduced in a contrasting contemporary aesthetic respectful to Philip Dowson’s original intentions (see picture below).
‘The tower’s expressive concrete frame has been repaired and a completely new high-performance glazing system integrated into it, to control solar and thermal performance in line with current best practice.’
The building opened to staff and students this month.
Type Of Project: University, providing academic offices/post graduate suites/café/lecture theatre and book repository
Structural Engineers: Faber Maunsell
Project Architect: Matthew Lucas, Associate – Associated Architects
Client: University of Birmingham
Tender date: November 2006
Start on site date: June 2007
Contract duration: 24 months
Gross internal floor area: 12,000 m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: Design and Build
Total cost: £25 million
M&e consultant: Couch Perry Wilkes
Quantity surveyor: RLF
Planning supervisor: RLF
Lighting consultant: Couch Perry Wilkes
Main contractor: Galliford Try
Selected subcontractors and suppliers: Sorba (cladding), Col Secure – curtain walling, Kone – lifts