Birmingham Millennium Point Complex is a multi-use conference complex in Birmingham, United Kingdom, and is one of the high class attractions, located in the developing Eastside of the city centre. The most prominent landmark millennium project in England outside Millennium Point’s capital opened in autumn 2001.
The complex contains Birmingham Science Museum, Birmingham School of Acting and Birmingham City University’s Faculty of Computing, Engineering and The Built Environment, Birmingham Metropolitan College and a Giant Screen cinema.
TheBirmingham Millennium complex lies in the northwest Birmingham city centre, where the Bull Ring Shopping Centre and Carling Black Label Arena are located. Several large office buildings, apartments and hotels are located nearby, and the area is also a popular residential area. The site features several local pubs and bars.
The Birmingham Millennium complex is close to the railway station and the National Exhibition Centre. Birmingham International Airport is the closest major airport to the complex, with the nearest scheduled airport service, the Heathrow Express; also just a short walk away.
The construction of the Birmingham Millennium Point Complex was overseen by architect James Stirling and was completed in 2000. The site of the point was a disused
piece of land known as “St Martin’s Field”, in the St Martin’s Quarter, in the city’s developing Eastside. The construction of the building was financed by private companies and several other public bodies, including the West Midlands and City of Birmingham Local Enterprise Partnerships, the private sector and the Millennium Commission.
Millennium Point is unique among other buildings in Birmingham in that it consists of three separate structures, none of which are connected to one another. This makes Millennium Point more akin to a sculpture than a conventional building, but the overall design draws heavily on the tradition of British Brutalist architecture. Its comprehensive form is reminiscent of a spaceship or an abstract work of art, a shape Stirling himself stated that he “wanted to explore” in building Millennium Point.
The tall structure, which has a distinctive dome, is made up of three interlocking sections. The topmost section consists of a high, spherical room called the Great Globe, which displays rotating images as the building rotates slowly in response to wind movements. The Great Globe was an idea of the architect and was designed by him.
The smaller domes that create the next section of the building are called the “Great Hall” and the “Nave”, and are located on the top floor of the building. These features are the only sections of the building that are not covered with glass. The entire structure weighs approximately. .The roofline consists of a series of curved, glass-enclosed terraces, providing an unobstructed view of the surrounding Birmingham city centre.
The third section is the tallest and consists of a series of high glass walls forming a terrace-style viewing gallery, accessible by a walkway outside the building. The terrace contains a cafeteria and a variety of shops, all of which are linked to the main building by escalators. The final part of the structure included a wide open-plan plaza and was designed as an extended “civic space” for pedestrians to congregate.
The building’s construction was a significant project for Birmingham and the West Midlands. It cost almost £30 million to build, with most of the cost being funded by lottery money. It’s initial opening in 1995 provoked considerable controversy, with some critics labelling it as an obscene landmark on a prime site overlooking the city centre. Some critics believed it would detract from city views from both the Bullring and the Millennium Promenade, a tourist attraction in the city. However, others believed that the building was a welcome addition to Birmingham’s skyline.
The building has been the subject of litigation in a number of countries due to the use of public funds. In February 2003, construction workers were fined for trespassing at the site of the Tower after it was announced that they would be re-hired by another construction company.
The building’s ownership was passed from the City of Birmingham to the Department for Communities and Local Government in January 2010 and subsequently to the Department for Communities and Local Government and Arts Council England in June 2012. A controversial decision by the European Union to allow it to continue operating as a tourist attraction after the original lease ended in 2015 prompted the creation of a “Tower Alert” website in June of that year.
After a fire broke out in the building on 13 June 2015, causing damage to the building’s fabric, the Council called for a full-scale re-evaluation of the Tower’s safety and security, and the subsequent plans to protect and secure the building and the public safety on its exterior have drawn considerable debate. The building remained closed for several months, with its access being restricted to emergency services.
In April 2016, residents started a campaign to stop the Tower from being a tourist attraction in Birmingham, stating that it was “not fit for purpose”. However, in June 2016, the Birmingham Post revealed that the Council had received a £500,000 gift from the owners to help with the building’s reopening. After a lengthy review process, it was announced in June 2016 that the building would reopen to the public on 28 September 2016 but was to close on 11 November 2016 to carry out fire safety checks.
In October 2016, the Birmingham Civic Society asked for the building to be classified as a listed building in order to increase its protection. This request was agreed upon by the English Heritage on 15 November 2016. The Birmingham Civic Society has also applied for the building to be listed as an example of an unlisted building of “exceptional interest”. This request was approved by the planning inspectorate on 24 October 2016, which also gives the Tower the status of a Local Heritage Asset.
In March 2017, following the decision to reopen the Tower, the Birmingham City Council announced that it had agreed to a £13 million deal with B&Q to refurbish the building into a new residential development. The B&Q building will contain 25 one-bedroom and one two-bedroom flats for first-time buyers. The refurbishment will include fireproofing, waterproofing, and replacement of the external cladding.
In May 2018, developer John Laing submitted plans to demolish the Tower, despite it being the best of the few buildings in the city to have not been completely pulled down.
On 2 November 2018, a protest was held at the top of the Tower by a group of people who wanted the Tower to remain open to the public.
In June 2016, it was announced that the Tower would be reopened to the public on 28 September 2016. The closure of the Tower was originally planned for January 2017, with a refurbishment starting a few months earlier. It was announced in July that Birmingham Civic Society had secured £500,000 in funding from Historic England to help fund the project. In September 2016, the Tower was scheduled to reopen on 26 September 2016.
The building reopened to the public on 28 September 2016, after a long refurbishment that took over a year. The Tower contains 18 apartments, which are available for rent from between £450 and £1,500 a week. As of September 2016, five of the apartments are vacant. As part of the refurbishment, the building had its cladding replaced.
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