Landmark remembrance centre at National Memorial Arboretum reaches construction milestone


A 50 tonne mobile crane has lifted into place the structural frame of the striking eight metre-high rotunda which is one of the most distinctive features of the National Memorial Arboretum's brand new £15.7m Remembrance Centre in Alrewas, Staffordshire.

Under construction by Stepnell and designed by award-winning Glenn Howells Architects, the new Remembrance and Learning Centre will significantly expand and enhance visitor facilities at the National Memorial Arboretum, the UK’s year-round focal point of remembrance.

The project team has reached a milestone in the 50 week construction programme with the completion of work on the complex laminated timber and steel structural frame. Stepnell has liaised closely with the Arboretum management team to ensure that the Arboretum remains open throughout the redevelopment. Following the completion of the transformed facilities, annual visitor numbers are expected to rise from 300,000 annually to around 500,000. The construction programme is on schedule for completion in summer 2016, with the brand new Remembrance Centre set to welcome visitors from the autumn.

Stepnell project manager John Neill says: “It is extremely satisfying and exciting to have completed the challenging operation to install the steel and Glulam (structural glued laminated timber) frame of the Remembrance and Learning Centre. With the structure now in place, this inspiring building which will deliver modern, high-quality facilities for the Arboretum’s increasing number of visitors, is really taking shape.”

Built to the front of the existing visitor centre and, linked to it by a timber colonnade, the brand new Remembrance Centre will house the dramatic drum shaped rotunda audio visual theatre space; an interpretation exhibition and temporary exhibition spaces; retail space; large restaurant; welcome and orientation area and learning centre. The building will have a limestone façade, echoing the Portland Stone of the nearby Armed Forces Memorial, and will also feature a timber portico and slatted timber cloisters. Heroes’ Square, a central outdoor courtyard space designed by landscape architects Fira, will be created within the cloisters and will provide a striking formal square for set piece ceremonies. A landscaped garden will lead into the wider arboretum where there are 30,000 maturing trees and more than 300 memorials.
The Stepnell team is now working on the roof of the Remembrance Centre building, the external wall framing system and drainage at the site. A team of up to 50 are on site each day with that number set to rise as the project continues.

In line with our commitment to using local suppliers and investing in the local economy, at least half of the people working on the project are based within a 30 mile radius of the site. Local firms working on the scheme include Burton-on-Trent based groundworks company Tim Bates and Lichfield based Maincare Roofing.

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