GBA Case Study
Arena Central, Birmingham
HSBC offices
  • HSBC Arena Central
  • HSBC Arena Central
  • HSBC Arena Central

1 Centenary Square is a statement 210,000 sq ft office building home to HSBC; designed by award-winning architects Make.

Situated between two listed buildings – the former 1920s Municipal Bank and Richard Seifert’s 1970s Alpha Tower – the new building is designed to mediate between them. Its three slender blocks step up and ‘fan out’ towards Alpha Tower, while towards the bank they step down and are aligned along a north-south axis. The cladding also draws on the area’s architecture, with a woven facade colour-matched to the Portland stone of nearby structures. This cladding subtly transforms as it wraps around the building: a calm, elegant facade is presented to Centenary Square, while a softer, rippling elevation faces the newly created Bank Court to the building’s south.

Detailed design

Comprehensive detailing commissioned to SCIL, included preparation of Key plans, GA Drawings, fabrication drawings (for fixings and GRC Panels), static calculations and design warranty. The detailing also encompassed all interface liaison with related trades, the install sequencing and mutually agreed tolerances. A substantial quantity of the GRC Panels, themselves weighing approximately 650kg, were to be attached directly to metsec/SFS substrate.

This incredibly challenging, indeed, groundbreaking constraint for Grade 18P GRC Cladding was achievable via the deployment of Localised PFCs within the substrate. Allied to this was painstaking design cooperation between GBA/SCIL/Ash and Lacy/GT and others.

Detail Fabrication Drawings were produced for all Panel Types. This included calculated Lifting Sockets/Points and all Mortices to accommodate pre-installed site bracketry.

The 'mock up'

An extensive “as built”, full size mock up arrangement was designed and installed to ensure all fundamental aspects of lifting, installation, bracketry and tolerances, etc, could be accommodated.

Lifting sockets

The large format panels, linked with the associated risks of a congested and restricted site, necessitated absolute confidence in the “cast in” lifting Sockets.

Therefore, GBACPL tested each individual Lifting Socket, prior to dispatch to ensure SWL compliance.

A number of Destruction Tests were also carried out to ensure compliance with Design Loads. 

Grade 18 GRC Advantages

  • Surety of cost
  • Lightweight (High performance, thin section composite concrete product typically 70kg/m2).
  • Environmental benefits- A BREEAM A+ Rated product.
  • The installation process negated the need for site craneage and external scaffold, was totally unaffected by inclement weather and, in the main, was completely removed from the project critical path.
  • The design methodology followed tried and tested principles which facilitated fast, simple affective connection details. This eliminated the need for any secondary carrier system.
  • The routine Maintenance requirement once installed is virtually non existent.

QA - Packaged - Delivered to site

Installation - Henley Stone Specialists Ltd


The installation work was completed in April 2018, making it the largest GRC Façade scheme in the UK 2017/2018.


Client: Galliford Try PLC
Architect: Make
Installer: Henley Stone Specialists Ltd
Product: Grade 18p GRC Cladding Panels
Quantity: 7500 m2
GRC Manufacturer: GB Architectural Cladding Products Ltd
Completion Date: April 2018
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