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New bridge for Birmingham Midland Arts Centre

Work on Birmingham’s Midland Arts Centre (mac) has reached a key construction milestone with the lowering of a new, covered pedestrian crossing.

The bridge will provide access and a waiting area for queuing audiences, reaching out from the redeveloped Centre to cross the River Rea. It will also form the first point of contact for visitors to the Centre and has been designed to reflect the mac’s philosophy of making culture easily accessible to everyone.

Accessibility and flood prevention considerations resulted in extremely tight design constraints and engineering consultancy Buro Happold selected a vierendeel truss design.

The Mac, which is located next to Edgbaston Cricket Ground, is visited by over ten per cent of the Birmingham’s population every year. The refurbishment programme will link the Centre’s three existing buildings, as well as create a new purpose-designed gallery, performing arts and covered roof performance space.  

Mac chief executive Dorothy Wilson said “The new pedestrian bridge is a physical manifestation of one of our key reasons for the project – the desire to provide ease of access for all our audiences and participants. The new bridge enables us to make the mac physically accessible to everyone.”

Buro Happold senior engineer Hazel Dalton said: “Knitting a modern steel frame into 1960’s concrete structures has proved a challenge but revitalising this much-loved Centre means that it will continue to be enjoyed by the future generations of Birmingham.”

The £14.8m project on the mac building began in spring 2008 and the new Centre is due to open in 2010.  

As well as designing the bridge, Buro Happold is providing structural engineering, ground engineering, infrastructure and transport engineering, fire engineering and acoustic engineering services on the wider project.

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