Paul Dale reports [2.11.07] that John Madin, the architect who designed Birmingham Central Library,  believes city council plans to demolish the building are being driven by “commercial greed” rather than genuine concerns about cultural provision.

Mr Madin spoke out after a council scrutiny committee heard that the 34-year-old building would have to be demolished to make way for the redevelopment of Paradise Circus. Selling the land upon which the Central Library for an estimated £15 million would help to fund the £193 million cost of building a new library in Centenary Square.

Mr Madin said he feared the civic heart of Birmingham, marked by the Council House, Museum & Art Gallery and the Town Hall, would be destroyed by the type of commercial development planned at Paradise Circus:

“They are proposing to put a tower block in front of the Town Hall. It is fundamentally wrong and commercial greed, in my opinion.”

Mr Madin accused the council of allowing the Central Library to deteriorate over many years and said local authority officials were exaggerating the cost and difficulty of improving and expanding the building in order to skew the case for a new library in Centenary Square.

He added: “The ground floor can be extended if required, as originally planned, and can even be further extended when the fast food shops are removed from the entrance and courtyard. The Central Library is not inflexible. It is designed with an open flexible plan on every floor with no structural walls to inhibit the free and easy alteration of its layout. It was particularly designed to meet any future requirements with regard to technical developments over the 21st century and beyond.”