Award Recognised Project

Library of Birmingham

An award-winning, landmark public building

A new build library which is one of the largest public libraries in the world. It includes both adult and children libraries, offices, a multimedia centre, cafés and an exhibition hall alongside many other facilities.

This is an inspiring project where the merits of a post-tensioned concrete frame were chosen over a traditional steel approach, resulting in significant cost savings and a sophisticated, award winning structure.

Building a better library for Birmingham was a challenging and inspiring project. We worked closely with our clients Carillion and A.J. Morrisroe to bring to life the elegant designs of the architects.

Our approach was holistic. We began by appraising the whole scheme from first principles and pictured the structure in its entirety. After this review we suggested a post-tensioned concrete frame solution instead of the originally planned steel frame. By using this incredibly versatile form of construction we were able to make significant cost savings.

It also allowed us flexibility and greater control when building the complex structure, which included a two-storey high 10m cantilever and a 22m diameter central atrium with 28m long transfer walls. The library was constructed using 21,000m3 of concrete, and the frame is reinforced by 3,000 tonnes of steel.

At the end of the project the team had achieved an award winning structure and praise from Birmingham Council for our ingenuity, efficiency and delivery of best value.

Walsh won the PTA (Post-Tensioning Association) Building Award for this project and it was also shortlisted for a RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.


  • AJ Morrisroe
  • Mecanoo
  • Carillion
Completion Date2013

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Taking Sustainability Seriously

Sustainability is in our DNA and we have our own ambitious goals to achieve Net Zero as a business and with our designs. With innovative in-house monitoring tools, Walsh clients have seen on average reductions of 10-20% total embodied carbon, with some of our flagship work achieving 60-70% reductions compared with baseline figures.