It was drizzling rain when we started so Simon took us into a meeting hut and gave us some interesting facts.
Overall the project is ahead of schedule and expenditure is below budget. £70million has already been spent but this is not yet half way and another £80million of work remains.
Construction should finish in early December which will be followed by 3 months of “proving” that all the systems work and the fitting of IT systems. Then there follows 1 month of “validation” that the environment control systems in the Archives work correctly.
The books from the existing Central Library will then be shipped in and located at the rate of 10 lorry loads per day over 10 weeks – if all goes to plan.
Visually, most of the outside is finished with the whole building being waterproof except for where the hoist is on the right (East) side facing Baskerville House. The hoist is used to lift all the interior panels, etc, to the relevant floor. All the major items like escalators and travelators were installed before the external walls were completed.
A second small frontal hoist is in the amphitheatre.
The last external floor to be completed is the round Shakespeare Memorial Room at the very top. Gold panels will soon be fitted to outside of this echoing the middle level section which will house the Archives of the library. Glass panels can be seen being fitted to the first level terrace which extend to a little above head height and will border and provide safe viewing over the Birmingham cityscape.
Currently there are 150 electricians on site and coincidentally 150 scissor lifts to facilitate access to high parts of each floor.
The hoardings in Centenary Square will start to be removed after the Conservative Conference in the ICC in October. These enclose the “city” of portacabins housing the multitude of project controllers, etc, etc, responsible for the whole operation and this will also gradually be removed as December approaches.
If you’ve ever questioned how the windows will be cleaned and replaced, a 90cm gap between the metal filigree and the glass allows for a manned platform to be deployed suspended from above.
Also, the glass is high-tec self-cleaning, so the normal appearance and the frequency and hence the cost of cleaning will be optimised.
Simon is obviously very happy with the way things have gone in the 4 years since the project started which is also when his involvement began.