Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands’ (LDS) new sports centre for the University of Birmingham has been named as one of two National RIBA award winners in the West Midlands, marking it as one of this years finest buildings in the UK.
The building, already a recipient of a Civic Trust Commendation and a West Midlands Property Award was formally opened by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in March. It was a key component of the city’s successful bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games where it will host Commonwealth squash, alongside Commonwealth hockey on the neighbouring pitches. In its first year Sport and Fitness has attracted more than 10,000 members and welcomes more than 1,000 school children each week for swimming lessons.
The judges citation concluded, ‘Since opening, the centre’s membership from both university and town has surged, exceeding all expectations - a fitting recognition of the client’s vision and the way it has been given form by the architects (LDS). The new centre provides a broad range of highly flexible and well equipped spaces that can be adapted for different sports and public events, a level of adaptability that in other sports facilities can sometimes result in a dullness of character, but here it is achieved with memorable civic spirit.’
Architect Paul Sandilands commented, ‘We’re thrilled to receive this award - It is a wonderful project on so many levels – a civic gateway to the Aston Webb campus, a highly sophisticated university sports destination, yet also a place for the people of Birmingham.’ Director of Sport Zena Wooldridge said: “This is fantastic news. I’m delighted for the whole team involved in conceiving, designing and constructing such an impressive building. It’s not just the physical design and appearance of it, but it has a lovely welcoming feel to it too. It’s a building people love being in, and creates a sense of well-being and community. We’re very lucky to have such a magnificent building, and very proud it won a RIBA award.”
Simon Shakespeare, the University’s Deputy Head of Capital Programme, said: “This is a great result for such a major project here at the University. It really marks a transformation in the quality of facilities we are able to provide, and sets out our intentions for the future of this campus.”
The Sport and Fitness Club is part of a £600 million investment in the University of Birmingham’s campus, with a vision to provide state-of-the-art facilities to students and staff for generations to come.