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The Exchange

Conservation, extension and repurpose of grade 2 listed bank

Glancy Nicholls Architects were appointed to provide full executive architect services for the refurbishment and extension of the Grade II listed Former Municipal Bank. The scheme provides a new city-centre-based campus for the University of Birmingham, including a student incubator, and spaces for conferencing, curated exhibition, and public engagement. These facilities serve to reconnect the building with the wider city, as well as enable community access.

The Municipal Bank was designed by T.Cecil Howitt and built in 1933, but it has been vacant since 2006. The building is significant to Birmingham and its’ importance lies within the preservation of the city’s original culture and values. The condition of the Bank meant the extent of refurbishment and repair required was extensive. As such, we worked alongside the University and Galliford Try to adapt the Bank for reuse, undertaking key conservation works to honour and reflect the standing and heritage of the building.

Concept Design by Make Architects


  • Conservation & Regeneration Award 2022
    Constructing Excellence
  • RICS Heritage Project Awards 2022


The University of Birmingham’s “Exchange” building was first opened on 27th November 1933 by Prince George as the Birmingham Municipal Bank’s headquarters.

Birmingham’s Municipal Bank was first created by Lord Neville Chamberlain (while serving as Mayor of Birmingham) as a savings bank for the city’s workers. The bank remained part of Birmingham City Council until 1976 when it became a Trustee Savings Bank, the “TSB.”

The bank finally moved out of the building in 2006, The University of Birmingham bought it in 2017, sensitively refurbishing, extending and repurposing the magnificent grade 2 listed building into their City Centre facility, opening in 2021.

The original building was designed by Thomas Cecil Howitt, a prominent Nottingham architect who also designed Baskerville House directly opposite The Exchange across Centenary Square. Thomas Cecil Howitt is probably best known for his Nottingham City Council House and the iconic Odeon cinemas he designed across the UK.

The glass exterior entrance space on a bright day
The Exchange