Crazy Building Provides Reason To Visit City

Some think of Birmingham, England as 'grim, drab, industrial waste,' but a spectacular new building could change everything for the old industrial city.
December 6, 2003, 9am PST | David Gest
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"The common joke has been that Britain's much maligned No. 2 city was so unsightly that its downtown tangle of freeways, known as Spaghetti Junction, had more lanes taking you out of the city than in." However, Birmingham could be in store for a bright future. "The reason for the turnaround is a world-class architectural showplace in the city's center, substituting Birmingham's old symbols of sooty foundries and lumpen, Eastern-bloc-style apartment towers with the alluring sight of a curvy undulating structure with a glittering surface of 15,000 reflective aluminum discs on a sheer cobalt blue skin..." Already critics are calling the building "astonishing" and comparing it to Gehry’s work in Bilbao. New tourists may re-examine some of the city's older amenities: “Though it is one of the world's original industrial cities, Birmingham has more parks than any other city in Britain...[It has] created Symphony Hall, a classical musicians' favorite as one of Europe's finest acoustical spaces...It also has more canals than Venice...Birmingham is also the most culturally diverse city in Britain, with nearly a third of its 976,000 citizens from ethnic minorities."

Thanks to David Gest

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Published on Thursday, December 4, 2003 in The New York Times
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