Huge foundations arrive for One Centenary Way at Paradise

Enormous steel trusses have started to be installed at the site of the city’s newest landmark – the One Centenary Way office building at Paradise, Birmingham.

The 16 trusses, totalling 1,156 tonnes, are amongst the largest ever designed and constructed in the UK for a commercial building and have been fabricated at a specially-expanded factory in southern Scotland before being brought to the heart of Birmingham by road.

The trusses make up a key component of the foundations and will allow the 13-storey building to rise onto the city’s skyline between now and early 2023.

The giant lorries used to transport the trusses have begun arriving on site after making the 280-mile journey from BHC Steel in Carnwath, Lanarkshire, under full police escort with road and motorway lane closures in place. This has allowed the trusses to make their way to the West Midlands with minimum disruption.

A 1,200 tonne mobile crane – also one of the largest operating in the UK – has been erected over the past week to allow the trusses to be installed. The crane has a full reach of 89 metres and will be able to lift the trusses into place, the largest of which is 34.6 metres in length and 5.2 metres wide. The heaviest truss weighs in at 119 tonnes. The trusses then allow a table to be built on top of them, upon which the rest of the building is constructed.

All of the construction work is taking place above the live A38 Queensway tunnel without any impact on the road below.

Contractor Sir Robert McAlpine started work on One Centenary Way last winter and the latest work follows the extensive enabling and foundation works that have taken place already to allow construction of the new 280,000 sq ft commercial building to progress.

One Centenary Way will overlook the transformed Centenary Square and its unique, exposed steel exoskeleton frame will provide a striking visual gateway to Paradise and become a major new landmark for the city.

Designed by Birmingham-based Glenn Howells Architects, One Centenary Way incorporates three-metre wide horizontal windows, encased within an exposed structural steel façade. The innovative, structural-led design is a response to the complex site location. The building will offer large office floorplates of up to 22,500 sq ft as well as retail space at ground floor level.

Rob Groves, regional director with Argent, said: “One Centenary Way is a truly exemplary building that I am convinced will become one of the city’s major landmarks. There’s nothing else quite like it in terms of design and it will not only mark out Paradise, but also this whole area of the city centre. With the delivery of the trusses we see the practical application of one part of our vision not just for this building, but the whole scheme.”

Chris Taylor, CEO of Real Estate and Head of Private Markets, international business of Federated Hermes, added: “The installation of these large trusses marks an important stage of this structural-led design for One Centenary Way as this marks the beginning of the first part of Phase Two of the development at Paradise. This building will serve as a major landmark for Birmingham and we look forward to seeing our vision for the city come to fruition while contributing positively to the economy and surrounding community.”

The trusses are part of the podium level works for One Centenary Way, which is part of a financial package for new infrastructure across the Paradise site funded by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GSBLEP).

Tim Pile, chair of GBSLEP, said: “Paradise is a transformative project for Birmingham and the wider region, performing an essential economic role in bringing new jobs, skills and opportunities to the city-region. Through our Enterprise Zone funding, we have enabled the infrastructure works around the site to be completed, allowing the private sector to invest in the individual buildings. The work we now see taking place now on One Centenary Way is an excellent example of the public and private sectors working together for the good of the city and its people.”

Ian Cheung, Regional Managing Director, Sir Robert McAlpine, said: “One Centenary Way creates a new landmark for Birmingham as part of one of the largest mixed-use developments in the UK. The logistical and engineering challenge around this building has required real teamwork to bring it all together and it’s a great tribute to everyone involved, from the architects to the engineers, the workers at BHC in Carnwath, the logistical providers and our team on the ground on site to ensure all these different elements come together at the right time and in the right order. We have also benefitted from the co-operation and help of West Midlands Metro, Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Police. Watching these huge trusses being installed shows our engineering excellence in action.”

Shauna Bradley, director with Glenn Howells Architects, said: “The design of One Centenary Way always meant there would be a lot of work on the foundations and podium level of the building. But the arrival of the trusses means this initial phase of construction is coming close to completion and it won’t be long now until people in the city begin to see the structure of the building begin to rise.”

“We have adopted a de-carbonised design approach to One Centenary Way, making this building one of the of most sustainable in the city. The factory where the trusses were made, for example, has a wind turbine that produces 65% of the energy required in the manufacture process. The scale of the trusses is enormous, with each weld between the steel sections taking up to 14 hours to complete.”

One Centenary Way follows on from the first phase of Paradise which includes One Chamberlain Square and Two Chamberlain Square and newly enhanced public realm.

At almost 2 million square feet, Paradise is delivering up to ten new flagship buildings, offering offices, shops, bars, cafés, restaurants and hotel across 17 acres in the heart of the city.

The Paradise redevelopment is being brought forward through Paradise Circus Limited Partnership (PCLP), a private-public joint venture with Birmingham City Council. The private sector funding is being managed by Federated Hermes. Argent is the development manager.

Paradise sits in the country’s largest city centre Enterprise Zone and has already benefited from investment by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) in enabling and infrastructure works.