Birmingham Gateway Project (BGP)
Owner Network Rail
Lead Designer, Structural and Civil Engineer Atkins
MEP Engineers Atkins; NG Bailey
Concept Architect AZPA
Facade AKT 11; Martifer
After a £750-million surgical transformation, Birmingham, England’s notoriously dismal 1960s-era railway station has been reborn. The refurbished terminal is now widely hailed as a stunning gateway to Britain’s second-largest city.
The remodeling of New Street Station required massive alterations of the structural loading to support a new atrium canopy above a concourse five times the size of the original as well as a new polished, stainless-steel facade. The designers created a global stability analysis model to ensure the new loading could be resisted by the old building during construction and after completion.
London-based Mace was principal contractor. Atkins was the lead design consultant. The project team and fabricators used a web-based document management system and common design software, enabling immediate and accurate information exchange. The U.K.-based members of the team colocated in a large site office and organized into “cluster groups”—as opposed to being organized around their individual companies—with design and construction disciplines working together. Before each element of construction began, BIM and lean construction techniques were used to test theories, reduce waste and improve processes.
London-based ATK 11, in collaboration with the Portuguese fabricator Martifer, designed the connections that bond the new facade’s cantilevered frame to the existing concrete structure. Each connection plate was individually designed for its location to reflect the existing reinforcement at that point. Martifer fabricated the plates in Spain.
Legacy construction records for the building were not representative of as-built conditions; in many areas, records were entirely lacking. But most of the detailed surveys necessary for final design of the facade and for each of the heavy-duty platform-access escalators (sourced by U.K. contractor Stannah for fabrication in China) had to be deferred until the construction phase. Railway operations and support for existing retail facilities had to be maintained throughout construction, so the intrusive investigations required before final design and fabrication were performed incrementally as the work shifted through the station.
The structural grid for the building tapers to follow the curving track alignment. Descending from the concourse, the escalators required precise design and positioning to slip between the columns and beams and meet the curving train platforms.
The project achieved 2.3 million work hours free of reportable incidents and exceeded 1 million labor-hours four times during the five-year construction program—all with trains arriving every 37 seconds and 170,000 passengers passing through daily.