The debate rages on about Birmingham’s most famous carbuncle, with Andy Foster, chairman of the Friends of Central Library, continuing to make the case for its survival.
And there does seem to be a strong ‘architectural’ argument for keeping the building.
Designed by a local architect, John Madin, the library is one of Birmingham’s key Modernist buildings and a notable example of the Brutalist style. Its ‘inverted ziggurat’ form – think upside ‘stepped’ pyramid – has attracted worldwide acclaim.
And of course, one of its biggest problems is that it was never properly finished: it was meant to be marble-clad but the budget ran out, and plans for the landscaped gardens (with five pools!), that would have softened its design, were never followed through.
Unfortunately, however, the building seems to have long since lost the PR battle, and a lack of maintenance over the years as well as the state of neighbouring buildings means it faces imminent demolition.
But why can’t we save the building (and use it as, say, a modern art gallery, as has been suggested), open up the route from the city centre to Centenary Square and build a new library on a separate site? We desperately need a new library but does that mean we have to pull down the existing one?
We’ve demolished some wonderful Georgian and Victorian buildings in this city, because the architecture was out of favour or the properties were ‘in the way’. And we’ve ended up regretting it. As Andy Foster points out, it looks like history is about to repeat itself.