The National Portrait Gallery's Inspiring People Project is the largest ever refurbishment of the gallery since the building opened in 1896.
The highlight of the refurbishment is a new public forecourt and entrance. The new forecourt will extend within the root protection zone of several large plane trees that border the area. Extensive arboricultural survey work has been carried out and the forecourt slab levels and pile positions have been set to avoid damage to the tree roots.
The forecourt will be supported by a reinforced concrete slab spanning between mini piles with heave protection below, ramping up to a reinforced concrete link bridge over a lightwell to the new main entrance. 10m wide openings will be created in two 940mm thick loadbearing masonry walls as part of the new entrance hall. These openings will be supported by double steel box frames which require careful sequencing and temporary works, especially to avoid an extensive plant room located below the entrance hall which must remain operational during the works.
Other alterations include converting the East Wing from office space back into galleries as originally intended and extending the basement café. A new lift and stair core will enable circulation throughout the wing, replacing a 1950s infill installed following bomb damage in WWII.
The Gallery's Learning Centre, located in the basement levels, will be expanded into three new studios, breaking out non-original floor plates to reintroduce double-height spaces which would have originally housed the kitchens. The currently covered lightwell under the new forecourt link bridge will be opened into a double-height green space outside the Learning Centre, and will accommodate new drainage and tree pits.
Currently in design.