Rotunda Rooftop Photomeet

If you were asked to name one of the most iconic buildings in Birmingham city centre, chances are one of the first to spring to mind would be the Rotunda. On Sunday 23rd June I was part of a small group who spent an hour taking in the cityscapes below.

The Rotunda was completed in 1965 and designed by James A. Roberts who sadly passed away shortly after this instameet, this Grade II listed building has long been on my wishlist of places to visit.

Organised by West Midlands Photography Collective and Staying Cool Apartments this photomeet was attended by 30 photographers who were split over three time slots. I opted to attend the first slot at 5:30pm.

We assembled outside the Rotunda’s entrance before jumping in the lift to our destination the 20th floor penthouse. After a brief glance round the serviced apartment and a quick safety talk we were let loose on the balcony to snap away at the skyline beneath us. I’m usually okay with heights but I must admit when heading towards the balcony and seeing how high up we were (the Rotunda is 266 feet tall) I did feel slightly off balance however that soon passed when taking in those spectacular views.

Although it was a particularly grey day it certainly didn’t dampen mine or my fellow attendees enthusiasm as we took in sights such as St Martin’s church, Smallbrook Queensway and Selfridges – I think it was a revelation to us all that the building wasn’t completely clad in shiny discs!

From our vantage point we took in the domes of Grand Central, peered down at the tiny figures below who looked like they could be in a Lowry painting and watched the trains coming in and out of New Street Station. I can imagine when it’s dark it would ideal for people to take long exposure shots of the road and the train tracks below. 

Although I can see the serviced apartment we were in being a fantastic place to stay if you wanted to go for something a bit more stylish than nearby budget hotels I can only imagine how spectacular the Rotunda would have looked had James A. Roberts been able to realise his vision of a revolving rooftop restaurant. Apparently the building was also intended to look like a candle, with a flame-like weather beacon on top, changing colour to reflect the weather.

If you are keen to see original features of the Rotunda it’s worth popping into Zara Women which is situated in the lower part of this cylindrical structure for the  Rotunda Relief which is a circular mural designed by John Poole.

All in all it felt like a real privilege to be a part of this event, I think I spent most of my allocated time slot spotting familiar landmarks such as New Street Signal Box, Library of Birmingham and the BT Tower instead of taking photos but here’s a small selection of some images I did manage to capture.

Further photos from people who attended this meet can be found on the Instagram hashtag #wmpc_rotunda , make sure you follow @westmidsphotocollective for more event announcements.

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