Controversial £55m art complex in West Bromwich could be closed just four years after opening

Architect Will Alsop’s West Bromwich art complex The Public could close just four years after opening, the leader of the council which owns it has said.
Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council will decide what to do with the controversial £55m centre by the end of 2012. Its review is part of its response to the government’s austerity drive.
Council leader Darren Cooper told Building’s sister title Building Design that one of the options it was considering was to shut it down. “It is true that we will be undertaking a fundamental review of The Public. Closure is one within very many different potential outcomes,” he said. “However, we do not envisage this to be the most likely conclusion.”
Cooper’s comments follow a report, commissioned by the Arts Council, which criticised The Public’s procurement and questioned its design.
More than half of the funding for the building came from the Arts Council but the report’s author, former Arts Council chief financial officer Anthony Blackstock, condemned the building as “not fit for purpose”.
“At the very least, it makes an architectural statement of extraordinary and unignorable imagination: a triumph or a conceit, according to taste,” he said.
But he added: “The building lacks flexibility and will be hard to adapt in the future. If The Public had been a fraction of its eventual size then it would have opened many years before it did and would be offering greater value for money than it now can.”
Alsop himself, who is shortly due to mount an exhibition of his work at The Public insisted that its problems were being resolved and that visitor numbers were growing steadily.