Showpiece concert venue set for £12m overhaul

Birmingham’s Symphony Hall is to undergo a £12m overhaul to ensure it remains one of the city’s showpiece concert venues.

While the venue’s auditorium remains one of the best in Europe, its foyer is indistinguishable from the ICC and concertgoers are often left milling around the conference centre’s vast interior or outside in Centenary Square.

The overhaul seeks to address this, and the plan is to give the venue a proper entrance; one which leads out into a revamped Centenary Square.

With the hall being designated as a venue for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the city council is keen that the facility is improved in time for the showpiece event.

Glasgow-based Page/Park Architects has been appointed to design the improvements.

It said: “We are thrilled to have been successful in the competition to lead a design team in the foyer redevelopment at Birmingham Symphony Hall. This is a remarkable project addressing the newly emerging Centenary Square.”

The design team includes ARUP, Max Fordham and Churchman Landscape Architects.

As well as being home to the famous City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra (CBSO), the Symphony Hall hosts a wide variety of musical styles as well as stand-up comedy.

Last year alone saw concerts from such a diverse range of performers as Van Morrison, Tony Bennett, Kraftwerk, Robert Plant and Idina Menzel.

Nick Reed, CEO for Town Hall Symphony Hall, said: “This project will finally give Symphony Hall the foyers and public spaces to match its world class auditorium. Boasting a much-improved audience experience and a dedicated entrance, this permeable space will be energised with new artistic adventures, creating a sustainable future for Symphony Hall, and developing an audience that looks like the city it serves: young, diverse and creative.

“Page/Park have presented some inspiring ideas on how the building can help achieve our objectives and we look forward to now working with them to develop the detailed design.”

Backing for the work has come from the Greater Birmingham & Solihull LEP’s Local Growth Fund and the Arts Council of England. The Symphony Hall is now preparing final funding bids with both bodies.

David Page, Head of Architecture, Page/Park, said: “Centenary Square is being transformed into a remarkable heart of the city with its assembly of important civic cultural buildings. The new Symphony Hall frontage will provide a multi-levelled balcony to that new setting.”

Roger Mendonca, director, GBSLEP, said: “For more than 25 years, the Symphony Hall has been a major draw for Greater Birmingham and Solihull, entertaining audiences in one of the finest concert auditoriums in the world.

“GBSLEP’s contribution to the Symphony Hall is part of our commitment to sustaining the region’s cultural and tourism offer, coming hot on the heels of Birmingham’s 2022 Commonwealth Games prize and nearby Coventry’s 2021 City of Culture win. By supporting the venue’s extension, we are ensuring that the Symphony Hall transforms its commercial offer, generates new jobs and enhances the experience of its many visitors.”

How the revamped Symphony Hall will look