Rotunda 1965
Photo By D J Norton Rotunda 2006

Rotunda Reborn

Seeing the Rotunda being constructed on my father's photo's (especially the New Street Station pictures) has been particularly interesting given the building's newsworthiness as a result of a major refurbishment.

As far as I can tell, the Rotunda was not universally accepted as a 'good thing' when it was opened in 1965.  It was like a big exclamation mark in the sky as if to say, "There you go, Brum, you really are a modern city now!".  But as the years passed it became accepted as Birmingham's most iconic building.  When the possibility of it being demolished as part of the new Bullring development was discussed, the city was outraged.  Being granted Grade II listing status ensured it would survive.

As if to emphasise the popularity of the building, people queued overnight to buy an apartment in October 2005.  They all sold out in less than 3 hours and, soon after, every window in the building had a blue and white SOLD sign in it!  Unfortunately, the sell-out was almost inevitable given that the developers Urban Splash had sold 140 of the 232 flats to Claremont Group for £25m a month earlier...

The task of converting an outdated office block into luxury apartments was not easy.  The estimated completion date was early 2008 and the official opening was on May 13 2008.

To see what an inspiration the Rotunda can be, check out Matt Craig's 'Trouble Bruin'

Rotunda May 2006
Rotunda June 2006
11th May 2006 - stripping has started
30th June 2006 - a blank canvas!

Rotunda October 2006
Rotunda April 2007
31st October 2006 - new cladding appears
18th April 2007 - cladding complete
Note the little step in on the top floor - the penthouses have balconies...

Rotunda May 2008
20th May 2008 - a week after the official opening.

Ringway Centre
Ringway Centre - May 2008
A short walk from the Rotunda, Ringway Centre can be found.  Designed by the same architect, James A. Roberts, this building could be viewed as it's older brother.  It tends to polarise opinion and is not viewed with the same degree of affection.  Personally, I think it is one of the few successful things to come out of the construction of the Inner Ring Road.  See pictures of it's early days on the Inner Ring Road South and Bull Ring and Inner Ring Road by Leonard Stace pages.