The Millennium Centre was designed by Jonathan Adams, of local practice Percy Thomas Architects (taken over by Capita Group in 2004). His first concept drawings were made in early 1998, by 1999 his design was starting to look more like the building it is today.
Construction began in February 2002, the main contractor being Sir Robert McAlpine and Kelsey Roofing Industries the roofing contractor.
The architect’s concept of the building was to design a building that expressed “Welshness” and that was instantly recognisable. The building was designed to reflect the many different parts of Wales with local Welsh materials that dominate its history – slate, metal, wood and glass. All the materials used come from Wales and it was built from 1,350 tonnes of Welsh slate, 300,000 concrete blocks and a million metres of electric cable.
The exterior of the building is clad in multi-coloured slate. The purple and red slate came from Welsh Slate’s Penrhyn Quarry, the blue from the company’s Cwt-y-Bugail Quarry. Narrow windows are built into the layers of slate to give the impression of rock strata, the different stone layers in sea cliffs.
Jonathan Adams said: “I always loved going to Ogmore and Southerndown. I thought the cliffs there looked like a building anyway. A building capable of withstanding the roughest weather for hundreds of years. The older they get, the better they look. I wondered if it would be possible to make a building which had the same qualities as these magnificent cliffs. To do that I needed a lot of stone.
“Normal stone for buildings has to be specially cut into blocks; it takes a long time to make and costs a fortune but this was stone cut from the mountainside for nearly 200 years but which wasn’t good enough to make roof slates but it was ideal for making walls like the one I had in mind.” Jonathan Adams, Architect, Capita.