York Barbican

SMG were selected as the most viable proposal for the York Barbican in early 2011 and took on the project, refurbishing and reopening the venue in less than 5 months

The Barbican Centre was built in 1989 as part of a mixed leisure development. Following the closure of the Barbican, demolition of the public swimming pool and several attempts to reuse or let the Barbican it stood empty for nearly a decade. In late 2009 CoYC offered the building to the market for lease and invited bids for the redevelopment or refurbishment of the building as an entertainment venue.

Our project team were responsible for delivering the design brief and master cost plan and ultimately took on the responsibility for delivering the building on time and on budget for the opening event in May 2011. We focused on turning the building from a mixed-use leisure facility in to a modern entertainment venue, which involved significant redevelopment and refurbishment, turning fitness suites into restaurants, cafeterias into corporate hospitality areas and transforming a sports hall into to a store, rehearsal space and event load-in area.

Having appointed and briefed Fuse Design as the Architects and Arup as the Project Managers and M&E Designers, our team worked closely with them  to refine the designs and de-risk the planning and licensing approval process. The final appointments for the client side were the selection of Davis Langdon as project QS and CDMC. Main Contractor tender review and appointment were followed by design development, planning, value engineering and construction planning and the subsequent appointment of the main contractor. Then working with the appointed main contractor and their design team to develop the design through to construction completion and handover, which was on time and on budget.

Reopened in May 2011, York Barbican is now a 1400-seat multi-purpose entertainment-focussed Theatre, capable of hosting concerts and other entertainment events, providing a high level of comfort and customer experience. The Barbican is situated alongside the city ring road between Paragon Street and Kent Street, just outside the city wall, benefitting from a vibrant City Centre location and well established city centre infrastructure and tourist industry.

The facility is also suitable for additional uses such as business conferences, product launches and sports events such as Boxing, Snooker and Premier League Darts. In the short time from the reopening of The York Barbican SMG have established it as a must play venue for artists and event organisers and it is well on the way to passing 200,000 event tickets for the first full year of operation.


City of York Council


Fuse Design

Project Type

Redevelopment as mixed entertainment venue


2.0 GMP

Scheduled Completion

May 2011

Scope of services

Master Planning, Architect/QS/Main Contractor Selection & Appointment, Design Brief Development, Key Stage Design Review, Value Engineering, Design Development, Commissioning, FF&E Procurement, Business Plan Development, Reporting and Venue Operation