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  • Writer's pictureGethin Thomas

Death of a Building Part 2

Originally published on Photoblog by Gethin Thomas AUGUST. 07, 2020

Addendum. I am gradually restoring lost blog posts which disappeared with the demise of This is the first of a set of 13 posts detailing the demolition of the former Birmingham Library. I will piece them back together over the next couple of months.

A few years ago I lived in Birmingham, England. When I first visited Birmingham in the late seventies it had a reputation for being a concrete jungle of the new age. It was pretty much flattened in the second World War and so had to be rebuilt pretty quickly and cheaply in only a couple of decades. That meant poured concrete.

The first building that made me go Wow! was the library designed by John Madin in an inverted ziggurat shape.

I will start with a couple of sets showing the building at it's end looking a little worn. The first some exterior details and the second set (this one) some interiors. I was lucky to be given permission to photograph the inside about a month before it was handed over to the demolition team. These shots are quite dark and suitably sombre because the electricity had already been turned off.

After closure the building was used as a location for movies and TV series. This central reception area featured as a 1960's airport terminal in one Cold War spy series.

Empty book storage areas. The external windows were kept as thin slits to minimise road noise inside the building.

One side of the internal atrium. These were the study and reading areas.

Atrium furniture removed. These windows served as natural light for rows of desks.

The actual storage units gone while the moving device that held them remains.

Main reading area.

Paint the concrete white. That was considered an improvement.

Book elevator.

Victorian spiral staircase kept from the original Birmingham library.

Above the fast food mall. Pretty.

Roof area showing the later glass roof, added for the fast food mall.

This is what we got to replace it. More on this at a later date. Death of a building part 3.

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