Library of Birmingham – Report as at 13/04/11

Front of Libary of Birmingham

Front of library

I had one of the monthly briefings inside the building site of the new library conducted by Sinead Mackenzie of Carillion.

All work is to schedule and budget……

The front of the building elevation to floor 3 has been completed. Floor 3 will be an open  patio which extends around the right hand side of the main building as viewed from Centenary Square.

Rear of Libary

Rear of library

The other side of the building on Cambridge Street has now reached floor 5 with floor 6 scaffolding in construction as seen in the photo above.

Their apprenticeship employment of local people was also on target and around 100 had been employed. Great hope and news for the unemployed youth of the city.

What was strikingly evident for this visit from the one a month ago was the progress made in constructing the amphitheatre. This circular open area will be sunk below but open to the pedestrian area of Centenary square. Also sunk and surrounding the amphitheatre are rooms available for various functions, with access from the main library building.

Construction of amphitheatre rim

Construction of amphitheatre rim

The construction of the reinforcement of the concrete surround of the amphitheatre at ground level can be seen in the photo above. The steel reinforcement rods are factory produced but they are then woven together by hand within shuttering, before the pouring of concrete into the formed moulds. As I pass today 21st April, much of the area surrounding the amphitheatre has been constructed in preparation for the pour of concrete

The 1st 2nd and 3rd floors at the front are cantilever supported. My diagram of this structure can be seen in a new window – click LOB Cantilever Diagram (front of building is on the left). You can see one of the semi-arched cantilevers supporting them in the photo at top of page. The 1st floor at the front is suspended by steel piles from the underside of the semi-cantilever arches. What can’t be seen are the other ends of the cantilever arches which are whole arches. The latter are to be weighted by the floors above and apply a clockwise moment  to support the front semi-arches using the uprights in the middle of the arches as fulcrums. What you can see is that at the moment the front of floor 1 is supported from ground level by red steel pile structures. These will be removed when the 6th floor is in place. As a result, the perceived and available space on the front ground floor is significantly enhanced and the flexibility of use of the areas is also increased to cater for changing needs in the future.

Other high-tec structural techniques employed are stressed concrete floors. These are used substantially in the construction and will be covered in a later post (when I find a good illustrated explanation).

Geoff Caine

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