Museum of London formally appoints Sir Robert McAlpine as Construction Management Company on Smithfield project

Museum of London today announces that contracts have been signed and Sir Robert McAlpine has been formally appointed as Construction Manager on the museum’s new Smithfield site, due to open in 2026.

The appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine will bring technical expertise and experience to the building of one of the largest cultural infrastructure projects in Europe and they will play a key role in the next phase of the construction of a world class museum.

The announcement comes as the museum has completed the first phase of restoration work on the external facades of the almost 150-year-old General Market; a major milestone in construction and part of a plan to conserve the building’s historic fabric, originally designed by Sir Horace Jones.

Meanwhile internal works to the General Market are progressing, preparing it for future use through the excavation of service trenches in the site’s former Salt Stores and Vaults and formation of the new floor level. A stunning 10,000m2 of Victorian brickwork in the basement has also been cleaned and restored to its former glory. Work has now begun to build an impressive layered concrete staircase in the General Market to connect the social spaces of Our Time (dedicated to displays exploring London in living memory) with the spectacular underground spaces of Past Time. This area, comprising of the museum’s permanent galleries, will take visitors on an extraordinary journey through London’s past, using theatrical, sensory and interactive displays to bring the museum’s internationally important collections to life.

The museum will reopen at Smithfield under a new name – The London Museum. The new home will enable the museum to welcome millions more visitors and every London schoolchild through its doors. The museum will open early and close late to reflect London’s 24-hour character, enabling visitors to enjoy more of The London Collection than ever before. The ground floor level will maintain the building’s marketplace feel, giving Londoners a new civic space to explore the capital’s story.

This appointment will be key in helping the museum to achieve its significant sustainability goals, leading the way in sustainable design. Around 70% of the structure of the existing buildings will be retained, with operational carbon reduced through smart technologies that reduce energy requirements and monitor and improve performance over time, and with more than 95% of construction waste diverted from landfill. Sir Robert McAlpine will also work in partnership with the museum on shared social value goals, helping the museum deliver its Equality, Diversity and Inclusion objectives while also creating social value for Londoners by supporting local businesses and partners, economic growth and employment.

Alec Shaw, Director of New Museum Project and Estate, said:

“The New London Museum project is one of the most ambitious and complex cultural projects in Europe and one which will be the best city museum in the world once it is completed.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Sir Robert McAlpine to carry out the next phase in this hugely ambitious programme for a new, modern museum which reaches the highest standards of sustainability in both build and operation.

“The Museum of London’s plans offer an exciting opportunity to bring historic buildings in Smithfield sensitively back to life and ensure they are “Their expertise and passion for the project will prove invaluable in realising our vision for a museum which is not only world class but also maintains the unique character of the historic buildings in which it will be housed.”

Grant Findlay, Executive Managing Director, Buildings, Sir Robert McAlpine, said:

“We are delighted to be appointed to this project, which is so central to London’s architecture and culture. Our team of experts have long-standing experience of working on iconic landmark buildings. We also share Museum of London’s ambitions for achieving high sustainability targets and creating social value that benefits local communities. We look forward to bringing their vision to life, so visitors and Londoners are able to discover more of our capital’s diverse history.”

The Museum was recently granted planning permission, covering both the General Market and Poultry Market where the new museum will be based, and a suite of buildings known as The Annexe, which includes the Fish Market, Red House and Engine House. A Listed Building Consent application for the Grade II-listed Poultry Market has also been secured.

In preparation for its move to Smithfield, the museum closed at London Wall in December 2022. The Museum of London Docklands remains open.

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