QUICK HISTORY LESSON

The ICC’s building and heritage

Sometimes it’s good to take stock and see just how far we’ve come. And to remind ourselves how we made giant leaps forward in the past, so that we can continue doing so long into the future.

What’s immediately clear, is that like the city of Birmingham we’re so proud to call home, we’ve never been ones to stand still. After all, it’s much more fun to innovate than imitate.

It all started back in 1987, when construction work on The ICC began on the site originally occupied by Bingley Hall, which was the world’s first purpose-built exhibition space when built in 1850. Rather fitting really, as the desire to be at the forefront of exhibition innovation lies in our very foundations. Quite literally in this case.

Everything about the building was thought through and exudes quality. The Halls have been built to withstand noise from the surrounding areas and the main line railway track that runs under the building, with the installation of premium sound insulation. The eagled-eyed of you will have noticed that when you walk into The ICC from canalside it is marked as level 2. This is because the architects gave the installation a whole level of its own. The whole building was thought through to the minute details to give the best customer experience. Even the chairs within Hall 1 and 5 were chosen with delegates in mind, who would be sitting still for long periods of time. Each one cost over £1,000 and provides comfort equivalent to those used for first class air travel.

On 2nd April 1991, The ICC hosted its very first event, the British Small Animal Veterinary Association’s annual congress. We must have done something right, as we’ve hosted this event every year since and will do until at least 2020, though it’s fair to say it’s a much larger affair today. Yet our biggest achievement in that time has been ensuring that no two events have ever been quite the same. That corners have never been cut, or laurels rested on. Instead, we’ve pushed for originality at every opportunity. 

A few months later on 12th June, the site was officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II who then attended the International Olympic Committee’s 97th Session taking place at the time. Yet while countless other royals, stars and politicians have generated crowds at The ICC since that landmark opening, it’s the crowds inside our venue we’re truly focused on. And always will be.

Fast forward to 2015 as the venue approached its 25th anniversary, we felt it was time for a change and the right time to refresh the physical look and feel of the space – without taking away from its iconic characteristics – to create an even better experience for The ICC’s customers.  

One of the most noticeable improvements was during 2016, as large format digital screens were added throughout the Public Mall and portable screens were installed to make the space more dynamic and interactive. There has also been investment into connectivity with Wi-Fi upgrades, along with modernisation of the lighting throughout the Mall, Registration and Foyer areas.

The programme has also improved the conference facilities for delegates with a facelift to the venue’s largest flat-floored space, the 3,050m² Hall 3, Registration Area and Mall in 2015 followed by refreshes on Halls 4, 9, 10 and 11 along with six of our 10 Executive Meeting rooms to date.

But what does this all mean to our current day clients? For starters, it means we have unrivalled experience and understand that to push forever forwards demands a willingness to build on past successes, not revel in them. It also means our skillset is now as extensive as it is exceptional, which means we’re as comfortable building sets and planning social media campaigns as we are carrying out feasibility studies. In fact, our experience is so vast we’re frequently called upon to provide consultancy services to other cities. Everywhere from Gibraltar and Hong Kong, to those a little closer to home in Dublin and Belfast.

In all cases, it’s our enthusiasm to embrace different ideas, welcome new technology and interrogate modern trends that ensures we never feel our age. While continuous investment in our venue ensures we’ll never look it either.