The Exchange – University of Birmingham

Constructing Excellence

The Exchange at the University of Birmingham combines grandeur with contemporary flexibility steeped in history. With its outstanding location in Centenary Square, the building initially opened in 1933 as the headquarters for the Municipal Bank and has been closed since Lloyds Bank left in 1998.

After lying vacant for over 20 years, this unique building was purchased in 2017 by the University of Birmingham, thus securing the future of this important piece of Birmingham Heritage.

When the University purchased the building, it was just months away from complete and irretrievable dereliction due to many years of low maintenance, disrepair, and vandalism. The University saw an opportunity to create a place of curiosity, celebration, collaboration, and change that would connect the University’s research and teaching with local, national, and international networks.

Retaining many of its unique period features, The Exchange’s various rooms give the flexibility to transition from essential meetings and breakout discussions to press announcements, ceremonies, receptions, and fine dining, all located in a single city
centre venue. The Exchange also delivers interactive public exhibitions, professional development events, entrepreneurship, research, a new high-quality catering offering, and conference and commercial hire spaces.


Three Winning Facts:
  1. From the outset, the University of Birmingham acknowledged the importance of this unique building to the city’s heritage. The University had a stated vision for The Exchange, to deliver a fully refurbished and repurposed building. The project was completed to the highest standards of repair, re-use, and revitalisation, within the programme and budget. The 90-year-old building has a new lease on life with a very modern purpose.
  2. The University of Birmingham appointed a specialist design team to research, replace, repair, and match the traditional methods and materials whilst delivering a hi-tech building from the outset of the project. As the project progressed, new team members were introduced as required, with the whole team working together and
    demonstrating an ability to innovate, evaluate, and deliver alternative options, where necessary, to complement and reflect the ethos of the original design.
  3. The overall outcome of this project was the delivery of a new state-of-the-art facility in a unique historical setting, which effectively delivered the university’s requirements for customer satisfaction and quality. Whilst providing an enduring space, the University can showcase technology and research whilst maintaining and encouraging ongoing public access, particularly to the historically significant and stunning banking hall, basement vaults, and safety deposit areas.