Because 15 is nowhere near enough

16 THINGS YOU (PROBABLY) DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT THE CENTRAL LIBRARY

It's going, then. Some will celebrate, others will be crestfallen, but one thing's for sure - the city will never look the same once the wrecking balls swing, next month. Here we doff our cap to a brutal icon, that very rarely looked how it was intended, with a list of things you may not know about Birmingham Central Library. And for the heartbroken we turn to (almost) the words of Brummie, Mike Skinner: Dry your eyes, mate. I know it's hard to take but their minds have been made up... 
1. The picture above was the cover image to designer John Madin's initial proposal and here's how the scale model looked, complete with an array of planned aerial walkways and various add-ons that were canned due to budgeting issues.
2. When built it had almost six acres of floor space. Compulsory football pitch comparison? That's the equivalent of nearly four pitches. It was the largest non-national municipal library in Europe.
3. It was specifically designed for a long life and to stand hard wear with low maintenance costs. Oops.
4. It’s often said that Boston City Hall (pictured, below) was a huge influence on the library’s appearance, but a member of Madin’s team said they only saw the American building after work in Brum was completed. Chinny reckon. 
5. Harold Wilson opened the library in January 1974, he was leader of the opposition at the time. He had to leave for London before the official buffet reception because it was his wife's 58th birthday. Priorities, people. Priorities. 
6. Friends of the Birmingham Central Library approached Tate to see if they wanted to add to their four UK galleries by opening something in the ziggurat. Nope.
7. It was even suggested the library's huge atrium could become a semi-circular debating chamber for a devolved English parliament. It would have been surrounded by public viewing galleries and rooms for elected members (see below). 
8. BPN Architects had the idea of turning the old library into a trade centre and suggested slicing through the building to make it more inviting. Their computer generated image is well worth a look.
9. Moseley-born Madin's original plans were for the building to be clad in marble to align with the adjacent civic buildings; the city, however, was unwilling to foot the bill so a concrete finish was used instead. Interesting call.  
10. Prince Charles famously attacked the building saying it looked like "a place where books are incinerated, not kept”. The quote was the inspiration behind one of a number of notes artist Olivia Sparrow left dotted about the library in 2010 (see below). Brilliantly, the note referencing Charles was left in a book about the Royal Family. 
11. In 2011 the Central Library was the second most visited library in the country with 1.2 million visitors. The Norfolk and Norwich Millennium Library trumped it with 1.5 million.
12. The site where the library is situated was originally occupied by the stunning Mason Science College and Liberal Club (picture here). Two students of the college, Neville Chamberlain and Stanley Baldwin, went on to be Prime Ministers.
13. The time lapse video below is both amazing and heart-breaking. It shows the levelling of the college and construction of Madin's library. That’s not really a fact, but you’ll probably get over it...  
14. In 1999 a member of the public was almost hit by a small piece of concrete that fell from a cladding panel. Hence the net.
15.  Much of forthcoming BBC drama The Game was filmed in the Central Library. The show is set during a period when Harold Wilson was reportedly bugged by MI5 with the library standing in for the intelligence agency’s headquarters. The crew built a number of sets inside the library, bringing in new items but also making use of existing bookshelves and other stuff that was just lying around. Here's some promo pics taken from inside. The first one shows the introvert view of the atrium. The BBC are yet to confirm when it will hit our screens.
16. When redeveloped the area is simply going to be known as "Paradise". Modest. This clip here, which we've set to start at the crucial point - will show you how the mixed used office and retail area will look. We likey. Synchronise watches, work is expected to end in 2025. 
MOVIE CHOICE: FOXCATCHER

January started strong with last week’s Birdman, and the run continues with this difficult-to-categorise true story, a blend of sport film and psychological thriller with a chilly atmosphere that’ll stay with you far beyond the car park afterwards. Channing Tatum and Mark Ruffalo are sibling wrestlers Mark and Dave Schultz, one a tortured soul and one a lovable lunk, who are both drawn into the orbit of John Du Pont, an increasingly unhinged old-money type played with eerie precision by Steve Carell (pictured). Much of the coverage has focused on Carell’s surprise ability to cool the blood – he’s Anchorman’s Brick, and yet he’s terrific – but the meat of the film is in the relationship between the brothers, and how Du Pont’s madness gets between them. Tatum and Ruffalo are superb, saying more in wordless wrestling scenes than any ten-page monologue, and the film ruthlessly dissects the complex psychology and rivalry of brothers who’ve both made it to the top level of their sport – but still retain their childhood hierarchy.
HIS ART.
YOUR WALLS.

Pssst, we have some news. St Paul's Gallery have taken delivery of some limited edition, screen prints from movie poster-cum-fan art genius Laurent Durieux. Durieux (pronounced "durio") reimagines posters from classic movies in his own stunning style. Such is his ability he was named one of the world’s 200 Best Illustrators by the influential international advertising magazine Lürzer’s Archive. This is hush-hush because the gallery have them hidden away for the time being, but are happy to show them to people who specifically request. Big in the States, Durieux's stock is rising here in the UK and his price tags are creeping up by the day. A ballpark figure for this unnervingly vibrant The Birds print is £950 - it is one of a very limited edition run of which St Paul's have just one. Other prints start at £450. They also have this beautiful Iron Giant print and a second Hitchcock classic in the shape of this Psycho print. Ten other movie posters are also in their possession, but they're keeping tight-lipped for now.
Venue: Lasan, 3-4 Dakota Buildings James Street, B3 1SD; lasan.co.uk
Choice: Sikhandari Raan (£20.95) Chooser: Manager

The word "great" is overused to the point where the phrase "the word great is overused" is even overused. Lasan's Sikhandari Raan is a truly great dish. We've been fortunate enough to eat at two London Michelin-starred Indian restaurants and Atul Kochar's Dubai outpost and not a single dish from any of them comes close. Your shank of lamb is marinated in Kashmiri chilli, ground coriander, hung yoghurt and garam masala, it's lightly smoked and roasted slowly over night, then served with creamy black lentils. The layers of flavour cajole your tastebuds and marry monumentally with the meat. The lamb doesn't so much fall off the bone as willingly dive from it, like a Premier League player in a penalty box. Rich, rounded and pitch perfect in heat it's little surprise this is a spinoff of the dish that won the regional finals of the BBC’s Great British Menu. Eat once before you die? Eat a dozen times.  
Share
Tweet
Forward
Subscribe free
"A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theatre admission and the babysitter were worth it."
- Alfred Hitchcock
WORDS: Andrew LowryTom Cullen 
ADDRESS: I CHOOSE Birmingham, Office 211, 43 Temple Row, Birmingham, B2 5LS

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences