We are thrilled to announce the approval of an application for Listed Building Consent for the first phase of building improvement works for the Barber Institute of Fine Arts, University of Birmingham. This phase of works will commence on site this autumn, with the refurbishment of the Lady Barber Gallery and the Reading Room located on the first floor in the north-western side of the building in the 1970s extension, the Reserve Gallery.
The main building was designed by Robert Atkinson in the 1930s in the Art Deco style and was subsequently extended in the 1960s and 1970s. The extension was originally designed as the main reserve space to hold artworks, and over time, the building’s operational needs and internal spaces have been adapted to suit, the Lady Barber Gallery will now host temporary art exhibitions. The Institute is described as being, “home to ‘one of the finest small art galleries in Europe’, and a concert hall with ‘perfect acoustics, comfort, and rest for the eye’, all whilst being housed in the heart of a busy university campus in a major metropolis.”
The building was first recognised for its architectural heritage merit in 1981 when it was awarded Grade II Listed Building status. Recently, in 2020, it was awarded Grade I status due to its exquisite architectural qualities.
The latest proposed features and finishes of the refurbishment have been reviewed in respect of the Grade I Listed Building Status, considering the sensitivity of the building’s Conservation Plan and Heritage Significance.