Atkins design team behind award winning Birmingham New Street Station and Grand Central

The opening of the redeveloped New Street Station and the shopping centre Grand Central, marks a defining moment for the city of Birmingham and for the Atkins team behind its award winning futuristic design.

As lead designer, Atkins worked collaboratively with industry partners during the seven year, £750 million project to redevelop Birmingham New Street station and the shopping centre Grand Central – the new flagship 250,000 sq. ft. John Lewis department store, the largest outside London.

The new station has a concourse over three times larger than its original covered by a giant light-filled atrium.  With twenty-four new escalators, fourteen staircases and fifteen new lifts, people can move easily between the concourse and the redesigned platforms, which can carry up to 170,000 passengers daily. The station now provides improved connectivity for pedestrians with four entrances rather than the original two, opening up the south of the city centre for the first time, helping to regenerate the southern part of the city.

Atkins involvement began in February 2008 when awarded a commission to complete the detailed design of the works.  The scope was later extended to include the design of the additional structure to accommodate the John Lewis store at Grand Central, including the design support for the construction until October 2015.

The engineering and design team applied the latest technologies and innovations in the assessment of existing structures and in the design of the new ones to enable the new steel framed John Lewis structure to be built partly over the old 1965 reinforced concrete station. This involved the building of a Global Stability Analysis Model (GSAM), to understand how the old station and new constructions would behave under different loadings. This continuous assessment of the existing station both globally and locally revealed it could carry the revised loading and modifications required for the new designs with minimal strengthening. This included the application of the architect-led stainless steel cladding which wraps around the facades and the new ETFE atrium roof designed by Foreign Office Architects (FOA).

In addition to ensuring the existing station and new buildings were structurally stable during the construction process, the team also faced the challenge of the design having to be built based on assumptions as structural surveys were not available before the construction work commenced, resulting in changes as the project developed and the design work having to be adjusted to accommodate.

Atkins had a team of over 200 people working on the project at its peak, drawing on a range of multidisciplinary expertise from civils, highways and architecture to modelling, telecoms and landscaping, including colleagues from its Global Design Centre in Bangalore, India. The Atkins telecoms team were involved in the project from an early stage, undertaking design works, migration and enabling to allow the combining of the new concourse and facilitating stage works, as well as the installation and commissioning of the PAVA, CCTV, Access Control, CIS, Radio and data network.

Philip Hoare, Managing Director, Transportation, UK & Europe, Atkins, said:

“Over the last seven years Atkins has played a leading role in the design of Birmingham New Street Station and Grand Central, overcoming challenges by applying innovative solutions to successfully deliver the biggest station refurbishment in Europe.  The end result is that Birmingham has a stunning gateway that befits its status as the UK’s second largest city.

“The station is a prime example of how to successfully deliver engineering excellence in a complex urban environment and the same principles will apply to major projects in the future including HS2. It is testament to all the teams involved that in delivering the work – including the removal of over 10,000 tonnes of concrete from the site – the station remained open transporting thousands of passengers each day.”

Birmingham New Street station is the busiest hub outside London and is the busiest interchange station outside the capital with over 5.1 million passengers changing trains at the station annually and a train arriving or leaving the station every 37 seconds.

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