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Stephenson Bell rings changes for Manchester

Stephenson Bell has submitted its proposal for the partial demolition of Manchester's Grade II*-listed Free Trade Hall and the creation of a new five-star hotel for planning and listed building consent.

Designed by Edward Walters in 1856, the Free Trade Hall was bombed in the Second World War, destroying all but two facades which were retained in the 1950s development by Leonard Howitt, the city architect.

The hall was home to the Halle orchestra from 1858 until 1996 when it moved to a purpose-built concert hall.

Working with the developer Riverland, Stephenson Bell has designed a scheme for a Radisson Edwardian hotel which splits the brief into public and private spaces. Function rooms are housed in an 18m deep palazzo construction which makes use of the dressed 1860s Free Trade Hall facades, while bedrooms are contained in a contemporary structure which fronts onto Windmill Street. The modern block is simply detailed, complementing rather than competing with the decorative Victorian detailing of its neighbour: the top three storeys and the ground floor are glazed, while the light-coloured stone is used for the rest of the elevations. A glass-roofed atrium and foyer area fills the space between the two blocks. It is hoped that the £30 million project will start on site in mid-2001 and that the hotel will open in 2003. Agent Citex is the cost consultant while the structural engineer has yet to be appointed.

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