Rotunda (Birmingham)

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The Rotunda is an iconic, cylindrical tower block in Birmingham, England.

Built in 1964 as an office block during the post-war rebuilding of the Bull Ring, it was initially much derided. However, suggestions in the 1980s that it should be demolished when the Bull Ring was again redeveloped, met with equal, if not greater, hostility from the local populace.

In 1974, a pub on the ground floor of the building was the site of one of the Birmingham pub bombings.

A bank strongroom in the basement helps to support the weight of the building.

As of 2004, the Rotunda, a Grade II listed building, is being refurbished and partially converted for residential use by developer Urban Splash and Glenn Howells Architects. The redevelopment will create over 230 luxury apartments and there are also suggestions that the rotating restaurant, originally planned for the top floor, may finally be included. More likely to be implemented are ambitious plans to illuminate the top of the building to create a giant artwork.

In May 2004, its original architect Jim Roberts commented:

"The top floor has no central column to allow it to rotate. The weight is instead suspended off the column which runs through the building core.
"The idea for the revolving restaurant was only scrapped at the last minute after the Rotunda's shell was built. I can't reveal anything about the new design, but it has my full backing.
"What they are looking at doing with the building is excellent and will make it more eye-catching and I'm extremely delighted to have been involved in the project.
"The new developers seem more receptive to ideas than when I designed it.
"It would have been a very exciting development, but because it was very developer-led many features were cut as they wouldn't generate extra revenue from firms taking office space.
"I can't wait to come and see it after the refurbishment."

He also explained that the building had originally been intended to look like a candle, with a flame- like beacon on top, changing colour to reflect the weather.

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