Greswolde Construction

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VIP’s gathered to celebrate the completion of the latest phase of the multi-million pound project to breathe new life into Birmingham’s historic Grand Hotel, and to look forward to its future. 

Greswolde Construction has been on site since summer 2014, tackling challenging work involving the restoration and development of the Victorian building into luxury hotel, office and retail accommodation. 

Greswolde Director Chris Harrison joined representatives from English Heritage, the Victorian Society and Birmingham City Council to mark the completion of restoration work on the old stone facades. 

Teams from Greswolde continue to carry out the complex operation to develop 10 retail units at street level and two floors of offices above. 

“Old buildings always bring extra challenges, but this has been one of the most demanding I’ve worked on,” says Greswolde’s Gary Kefford, who is managing the office and retail works. 

“Many of the walls and ceilings were made of old lathe and plaster, while partition walls were in a poor state of repair.  A feature has been made of old brickwork in each of the offices, all of which had to be carefully restored.” 

Architect Russell Morriss, of Bryant Priest Newman (BPN) reveals: “We’ve tried to create a blend of contemporary and traditional, retaining original features including decorative coving, arches and fireplaces, complementing them with modern insertions. 

“Original signage uncovered during the strip-out also provides a fascinating glimpse into the history of the building and its former occupants.” 

Berman Guedes Stretton Architect Lester Martin says the retail developments have presented their own demands.  “We are responding to many complex design issues as they are discovered.  The Grand is an interesting and challenging project.  Ultimately it will result in a positive new start for this impressive building, allowing it to express its architectural heritage.” 

A 40 metre high tower crane erected in the rear courtyard remains an integral part of the project.  It is being used to lift materials into place over the roof. 

“We are at the mercy of the elements as it can be calm on the ground but blowing a gale up there.  An alarm warns us when the wind is too strong,” says Greswolde Site Manager Dave Jenkins. 

Once the offices and retails units are complete Greswolde’s team will remain to complete work at the back of the building, including a lift shaft, plant room and terrace. 

In the first phase of the complex operation the old timber framed roof was removed and replaced with a modern steel-built structure to create valuable space for new hotel suites.  Drainage work has also been carried out in the rear courtyard. 

James Slater, Hortons' Estate’s Building Surveyor says “We are very excited about the future of the development.  The office accommodation will be like no other in Birmingham and the retail units are attracting a huge amount of interest. 

“Although this old building has thrown up some unforeseen challenges, Hortons and Greswolde were determined not to go for any quick fixes, but to come up with robust solutions that would stand the test of time for future generations.”

The Grand built in 1875 by present owners Hortons' Estate has played a prominent role in the history of the city until it was closed 13 years ago.  Work began five years ago as part of an ambitious £40 million restoration programme.