The space that encircles the Rotunda at the upper level was originally called the Black and White Gallery and displayed prints and drawings from the collection. This magnificent space, which has been closed to the general public since 1928 and has housed the staff library, will be restored and opened up to the public to become the Tate Members area. A 14-metre long bar will run along the north end of the space and a new stair and lift will improve access to the new facilities at this level.
The Rotunda is the key to understanding Tate Britain as a building on three public levels. A new stair at the centre of the space will ease access between the principal and lower levels and will also open up strong visual connections between the levels of the Rotunda. Two additional stairs to either side of the central space will connect all three levels, just as they did when the Tate originally opened in 1897. As part of the design of the new central stair, the floor of the Rotunda will be remade in terrazzo, in a pattern that recalls the original marble mosaic floor. The Rotunda niches will once again become locations for the display of art.
Lower Rotunda and Café
At the lower level, where the Café is currently located, a space with the same plan area as the principal level Rotunda will be opened up to provide a generous circulation and orientation space at the Millbank end of the building. The existing arches and vaults will be embellished with terrazzo floors and linings to provide a set of spaces that are robust and feel properly public.
A new café will be located to the east of the lower Rotunda. This vaulted space will provide a counterpoint to the existing Rex Whistler Restaurant, and will have direct access to an outdoor space to the south of the building.