The project involves the restoration of a listed building to create a new heritage attraction for the city.
Willmott Dixon sill transform the City Museum and Art Gallery, Central Library and St Luke's Church buildings into an interactive centre to attract visitors and tourists keen or curious to know more about the city’s rich naval history, including the first migrant sailings to America.
The centre is set to open in spring 2020 as part of Plymouth’s 400th anniversary commemorations for the Mayflower ship sailing from Plymouth to America and will provide a new home for the city's vast historic collections.
Willmott Dixon will now work with Plymouth City Council through a pre-contract agreement to develop the building and construction elements of the project and prepare the site ready for a second-stage contract award later this autumn.
Plymouth History Centre is only the working title of the new development. It will include exhibition and gallery spaces exploring subjects such as Plymothians who have been influential on the world stage, the city's relationship with the Royal Navy, life in Plymouth below the waterline, Plymouth's prehistoric landscape and the West Country's artistic legacy, including Sir Joshua Reynolds, the Cottonian Collection and the Newlyn School of Artists.
Plymouth City Council leader Ian Bowyer said: “Willmott Dixon was awarded the contract after a highly competitive tender process and we’re really pleased to have them on board. As well as in-depth knowledge of the sector they demonstrated how they would inspire Plymothians to build for Plymouth and invest in the communities that support culture. This makes their appointment a great fit for the History Centre.”
Councillor Glenn Jordan, cabinet member for culture, said: “Willmott Dixon has a wealth of experience in helping to create buildings that are both functional and iconic. We were particularly impressed with their recent regeneration of a former Grade 2 listed building into a new home for the Gwent Records Office. This was a project that breathed new life into a property of more than 100 years old – so much like our ambitions for the History Centre.”
Willmott Dixon’s heritage project experience also includes fitting out a new home in London for the Design Museum and refurbishing Alexandra Palace.
John Boughton, operations director at Willmott Dixon, said: “The new History Centre will be a major transformation for the City of Plymouth, supporting and preserving Plymouth’s history and culture for future generations as well as providing an iconic attraction for visitors. It’s much more than a construction project – it’s an opportunity to bring Plymouth’s past into the present and create a legacy for the future. We will also ensure our work benefits the local economy as much as possible by using local companies for work packages.”