New Street Station December 2013 update

It's hard to believe and shows how fast time has flown by but it's been five months since my last update on the redevelopment of New Street Station, New Street Station July 2013 Update, and there has been much progress but mostly away from the public eye until recently.  Recent developments however have seen the roof atrium structure being assembled together with the steelwork for the Bullring-facing entrance 'eye' on the eastern side of the station.

The need for the redevelopment and work to improve and increase capacity to the concourse has been highlighted all too visibly recently with the city's Christmas success and popularity seeing nearly 200,000 passengers use the station at times.  That figure was a 75,000 increase on a more typical 140,000 passengers daily figure,

On the exterior while the steel panels haven't extended to cover the Stephenson Street eye entrance yet they have reached over to the ramp leading to the Pallasades Shopping Centre.  The panels are part of an overall 8,000 which will cover 20,000 square metres of the station facade and weigh upto 400 tonnes.  The steel has been supplied by Outokumpu who produced it in 316  3mm thickness coils which was then cut to length and polished and finished in Sheffield,

Valla argues that New St’s complex and undulating stainless steel cloak, far from skin-deep ornamentalism, is actually as modernist in principle as the windowless concrete box it covers. The firm was keen to use the formal language of the station to play on internal and external views and express the building’s function in a way that was previously hidden. ‘There the act of reflecting is not an architectural gimmick but a tool to define the nature and context of the station itself,’ Valla emphasises. ‘We wanted the facade to reflect specific views and capture activity inside and around the station – crowds, trains, platforms, sky. The curving mirror facade is a twist on the modernist dogma of form follows function.’ 

Pictures of Stephenson Street and steel facade.

With the infamous 'Walkie Talkie' skyscraper melting a car in London with the suns rays reflected from the glass,, a station covered in shiny reflective steel has naturally caused worry.  The worry for Network Rail wasn't melted trains however but the effect of light with glare for train drivers and reflections affecting ability to judge status of 26 signals governing entry and exist.  The risk of melted trains wasn't present as the Walkie-Talkie facade was concave whereas New Street's is irregularly convex which dissipates heat and glare,  To ensure and confirm there were no problems, ARUP's specialist lighting team worked on the designs and computer modelling to ensure any glare has been mitigated.

Away from the very visible steel cladding, much of the work has taken place hidden from view on the former main concourse and as might be expected in such a complex process there have been unexpected and sometimes unpleasant surprises such as the discovery of asbestos in the back-room offices, service and storage areas of the south-east corner of the old station,

However, on the eastern side of the station work has started on the steelwork for the new eastern Bullring-facing entrance and eye.  Pictures of work on this are shown below:

21 December



Above all of this, but visible from some vantages city wide and particularly as you make your way along Navigation Street, the work to create the new atrium roof is creating an almost organic spiderweb structure.  The atrium structure has to be constructed before the roof slab can be cut underneath and a 400 tonne steel ring beam has been built to support 200 tonne steel arches which will carry the ETFE (Ethylene Tetra Fluoro Ethylene) panels, the same material used in the Eden Project biomes,

Coleman, who have worked on the demolition of parts of the former station for the first phase and removed 8,000 tonnes of concrete, will work to remove the roof for the atrium,

Picture of the roof atrium structure taking shape, reproduced from Network Rail:

Some more pictures of the structure from street level and various vantage points are shown below:

Next to the roof is the now topped out new John Lewis store.  This has proved another challenge of engineering and design with approximately half of the store's footprint sitting on top of the existing station concrete structure and thereby putting load onto the existing station structure.  To accommodate this and reduce excess load, lightweight steel was used together with an online monitoring system to ensure as the new structure has been built no additional loads have been put onto the existing station.

“The demolition of Stephenson Tower created some space for the construction of the new John Lewis building, however a substantial part needed to be built over the existing station. To achieve this some of the existing heavy concrete frame needed to be demolished and replaced with a new lightweight steel frame in order to not overload the remaining foundation,” explains Atkins Project Engineer Mike Stephens.
Information of the existing piled foundations revealed that a limited amount of additional load could be accommodated. This still meant the new frame needed to be as light as possible to achieve the desired four-storeys. Weight was one of the main reasons why steel was chosen as the framing material.
In some locations the new steel structure surrounds the existing reinforced concrete beams. To ensure loads are transferred through and not carried by the existing structure, an online monitoring system has been installed to the 18 new columns that sit on the concrete structure. This system consists of highly accurate level monitoring equipment, strain gauges and load cells.
Severfield-Watson has not only erected the project’s steelwork, it has installed stairs and taken on much of the concreting works, such as slipforming the cores and installing the floors. To further save weight the floors are all of a composite design comprising metal decking and the thinnest possible topping. “Much of the frame’s stability is derived from the cores and we had control of their construction and the installation of the cast-in plates for our connections, all which are bespoke,” says Mr Swift.

Linking old to New

The girders above the spanish steps into the station from Hill Street support the four levels of retail above to create a large column free area.  The girders were brought to the site in three pieces as they are 33m long,

Joining John Lewis, the new Grand Central Shopping Centre, the refurbished former Pallasades shopping centre is nearly 80% let a year ahead of it's opening,  Bringing 40 stores and 20 restaurants it will ensure Birmingham continues to attract visitors and provide even more choice for residents coming alongside a £50 million refurbishment of the nearby Mailbox.

The White Company, L'Occitane and Kiehls will open shops in the Grand Central Shopping Centre while Italian Caffe Concerto, Mexican Tortilla, Crepe Affaire, Yo! Sushi!, Carluccios, Fuel Juice Bar, Giraffe and Vietnamese restaurant Pho will bring new restaurants with Pho it's first restaurant outside of London and the South East.

The former Pallasades shopping centre shortly after closing for redevelopment:

Looking ahead to the opening and as a poignant reminder of the 100th anniversary next year of the start of the First World War it was recently announced that a newly designed memorial featuring the names of the fallen railway workers will be unveiled in the new public square.  Of the two war memorial plaques from the former concourse one has been donated to the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire with the other being displayed in the first half of the new station.

Image of the memorial on the new concourse reproduced courtesy of :

A total of 3,719 men of the London and North Western railway died on war service in the Great War and the memorials from Birmingham New Street were on display in the old station concourse prior to its closure for complete refurbishment in April this year,

Also coming soon will be work to refurbish the office block on Stephenson Street which after mooted plans for a new hotel will now be transformed into 100,00 sq. ft of Grade A offices called One Grand Central,
The refurbishment of the office block will be undertaken by Birmingham Business-park based Cannock Developments.

All being well if things go to plan it looks like it might open in March 2015 according to the Draft CP5 Deliver Plan Consultation from Network Rail:

It is worth noting in perhaps optimistic expectation that the document also notes 'a number of projects are currently being developed as candidates for funding in CP5'. This sections refers to a loop facility at Bordesley which would hopefully mean reinstatement of stations on the Kings Heath line within my lifetime and thinking logically of services being able to reach Moor Street and relieving pressure on services into New Street Station,

Southampton to West Coast Main Line capacity schemes. The potential scope includes a
loop facility at Bordesley, Birmingham, diversionary capability and enhancement in the
Basingstoke area. These schemes will be considered as part of the Electric Spine
Development Programme.


Richard Huss said…
My suspicion, I'm afraid, is that "loop facility at Bordesley" doesn't relate to the proposed Camp Hill curve at all but to freight facilities on the line that turns sharp right after Small Heath to join the Camp Hill line and head towards New Street.

There are both up and down goods loops between Small Heath and Bordesley South Junction, which should allow freights to be put to one side to let the Cross Country services pass. The up loop (i.e. heading towards London) is well used and is a really decent length (carrying on past Small Heath station practically to the junction where the lines into Tyseley depot join), but the down (Birmingham bound) loop is much shorter and you don't see it in use much.

Pure guesswork, based on the surrounding context within the CP5 document, but my take would be that this item is to investigate whether lengthening the down goods loop might be possible?

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