Willmott Dixon has been chosen by Birmingham City University as approved contractor for a £61m project to build phase one of its City Centre Campus – a landmark investment for the University, the city and a new generation of students who seek the best skills.

The state-of-the-art facility at Birmingham’s Eastside will be part of the University’s £180million investment plan to provide a new environment that meets the modern learning needs of graduates so they can prosper with national and international employers.

Birmingham-based Willmott Dixon, which has expertise in sustainability and a policy of using local suppliers, is set to build a purpose-built 18,310 sq metre home for the University’s Birmingham Institute of Art and Design (BIAD) on a plot adjacent to Millennium Point.

The new centre, which has been designed by Associated Architects, will feature a large ‘Media Hub’ to include TV, radio and photographic studios that will underpin the University’s prestigious media production courses. The investment reflects the University’s aspiration to be one the UK’s biggest providers of talent to the creative industries, an important driver of the West Midlands economy and beyond.

Professor David Tidmarsh, Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University, said: “I am delighted to announce our intention to work with local company Willmott Dixon. This is another milestone in our ambition to build a City Centre Campus to create a learning quarter in the heart of Birmingham.

“This will be a significant investment by the University to provide a major boost for the city and surrounding region because this landmark facility will attract a new generation of ambitious students keen to become part of a highly skilled workforce.”

Peter Owen, Willmott Dixon’s Managing Director for the Midlands, added: “Our role with Birmingham City University places us at the heart of creating Birmingham’s bright future. We will make sure the local community benefits from our work, which includes spending around 80 per cent of our budget on companies within 30 miles using local sub-contractors, trades people and suppliers.”

Graham Rhodes, Director of Estates at Birmingham City University, said: “With Willmott Dixon’s expertise in higher education, alongside their local presence in Birmingham, we are delighted to make them our preferred bidder so we can turn our eye-catching designs into a reality.”

Plans for the five-storey building, adjacent to Cardigan Street, were approved by Birmingham City Council in April. Work on phase one is now scheduled to start in autumn 2011 and be ready for occupation in September 2013.

The new campus will benefit from being adjacent to Millennium Point, which is already home to the University’s Faculty of Technology, Engineering and the Environment (TEE) and the Birmingham School of Acting.

The new building, which will also house new facilities for the University’s nationally acclaimed school of media, will be linked by a double height connecting structure.

Further development is also possible on nearby land at Eastside thanks to an agreement made in June involving the University and joint venture partners Birmingham City Council and Advantage West Midlands.

Students, staff and visitors to the new campus will benefit from nearby transport links, including the redeveloped New Street station and the proposed high speed rail link. The building, which will front the planned scenic Eastside City Park, will also be used to exhibit public art displays.