Three of the country’s best known construction groups are on a shortlist to win the contract to build Birmingham’s new civic library.
Carillion, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine will know by the end of the year who has been appointed to deliver the £193 million scheme in Centenary Square, which will open in 2013 and replace the Central Library in Paradise Forum.
Leading figures from the shortlisted firms met city council leader Mike Whitby and Birmingham Repertory Theatre executive director Stuart Rogers earlier this week to inspect the construction site, which lies between Baskerville House and the Rep.
The three contenders boast an impressive portfolio of projects between them.
Laing O’Rourke built the Selfridges store in the Bullring and the National Indoor Arena, while Sir Robert McAlpine was responsible for the Millennium Dome, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium and the new Bullring.
Carillion built Terminal 4 at Madrid Airport and Beetham Tower in Manchester.
Coun Whitby (Con Harborne) said: “We are determined that the new library, integrated with the Rep, will be among the very finest and most user-friendly civic buildings in the world.
“To achieve this it is paramount that we attract the very finest international design and construction partners, which is why I am delighted with the credentials of companies short-listed for each contract.”
Mr Roger said: “We are delighted with the calibre of companies on this short-list and look forward to working with any of them to develop the new building.
“All three boast impressive track records building truly iconic landmark developments, and I’m sure would be well capable of handling such a high profile and culturally important project.”
A similar exercise to recruit a design team, which will then work with the chosen construction partner on the project, is nearing completion with an announcement of the winning architect due later this summer.
Seven leading European architectural practices are on a shortlist. They are: Foreign Office Architects, Foster and Partners, Hopkins Architects, Mecanoo, OMA, Schmidt Hammer Lassen and Wilkinson Eyreli.
When launching a design competition earlier in the year, Coun Whitby said he wanted the winning architect to “reflect the spirit, grain and soul” of Birmingham. The challenge was to produce the best library in the world.
A council spokesman said: “The new building will be developed on land adjoining The Rep, in Centenary Square, with the library and theatre joining together and sharing a number of facilities to create a unique centre for knowledge, learning and culture.
“As well as shared reception, auditorium, staff and catering facilities the new building will include purpose-designed study areas, new exhibition spaces, and state-of-the-art interactive displays giving access to collections which have regional, national and international importance.”