Building a better student experience at Birmingham City University 

Tetra Tech’s multidisciplinary team delivered an award-winning state-of-the-art expansion to the Birmingham City University (BCU) campus on budget and programme. 

The 24,300m² Curzon Building marked the second phase of BCU’s City Centre Campus expansion. Our prior experience on nearby projects provided us with the detailed knowledge of key local constraints to address ground condition, drainage, traffic, ecology and archaeology. 

Images courtesy of Associated Architects 

The Curzon was conceived as the symbolic front entrance to the University with two wings of accommodation, linked by a central glazed atrium, and a definitive public elevation. For the multi-storey elements of each wing, we designed a hybrid concrete/steel framed structure supported on piled foundations in response to the sloping site and variable nature of the fill beneath the building footprint. 

Other innovations included the provision of a steel ‘sky beam’ cantilevered of the main concrete structure, to achieve the framing of the main entrance envisaged by the architect, and exposed concrete soffits and thermal mass to assist the building’s environment. Together with other initiatives, including the diversion of a major public sewer and a large biomass pit adjacent to the building, this helped the building achieve a required BREEAM Excellent rating. 

Central to our approach was the use of Level 2 BIM throughout the design and construction process to coordinate all structural, architectural and service designs. This significantly reduced potential clashes, saving around £250k on the overall project costs. 

The project also incorporated the refurbishment of the Eagle & Ball public house to form part of the new student union facilities. This required extensive negotiations with the local Heritage Officer to agree the case for demolishing out-buildings and remodelling elements of the main Grade II listed building. 

The finished building now houses the Birmingham City Business School, the faculty of Education, Law and Social Sciences and the University Directorate and is a central feature of the wider City masterplan for regeneration of the Millennium Quarter. It combines the student union and student services in a single support hub and includes a new library, lecture theatre, teaching and IT facilities in an environment that supports and enhances the student experience. 

Services Provided

Civil and Structural Engineering
Environmental Planning

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