The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

Birmingham Central Library by John Madin
Birmingham Central Library

Birmingham Central Library

Despite our best endeavours and those of the Friends of Birmingham Central Library, the City’s planning committee has passed major plans for a city-centre redevelopment scheme that includes the demolition of John Madin’s monumental Birmingham Central Library.

We submitted strong objections to the planning application, but redevelopment plans for the land between Centenary Square and Chamberlain Square were unanimously supported by the Council in a meeting just before Christmas.  A new library (designed by Dutch architects Mecanoo for a site elsewhere in the city) is scheduled to open this September.

We have always campaigned for the retention of John Madin’s building, which if no longer needed as a library could be found an alternative use.  It is a building of international merit which has a direct visual relationship with nearby listed council buildings and monuments.  English Heritage has more than once advised listing, which was most recently turned down by the Secretary of State in 2009.  As architectural fashions come and go, generations will look back and regret the obliteration of this iconic landmark.  For an interesting commentary on the building and images see