As well as these two practices, the city council is understood to have received expressions of interest from Foster and Partners, Arup, Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones, Michael Wilford and Partners and HOK International.
Mike Smith, procurement manager at the council, said he had expected the high level of interest because of the signature nature of the scheme. Wilkinson Eyre director Jim Eyre agreed that the library had the potential to be a landmark building.
In particular, architects have been impressed with the scale of the project – it will cover 30,000 m2 and will be the centrepiece of Birmingham's bid to become the European Capital of Culture in 2008.
The deadline for expressions of interest was yesterday. Approximately one-third of the list is expected to come from outside the UK, including New York-based architect Richard Meier. His practice designed the billion-dollar Getty Centre, which opened in California in 1997.
One interesting tussle will be between Foster and Partners and Hamilton Associates. Last month, Robin Partington, who designed the Swiss Re building for the City of London, left Foster for Hamilton after 17 years as a director. Partington is known to be interested in bidding for the library.
The library will be the centrepiece of Birmingham’s attempt to become European Capital of Culture
The architects must complete prequalification questionnaires by 4 January. A shortlist of between five and 10 is expected to be drawn up by the end of that month.
A preferred bidder should be in place by the late spring.
The library will replace the 1970s building in the city's Chamberlain Square, which is one of the busiest in Europe.
Public consultation on the project will begin early next year.