£110m+ for an arts project in Manchester is just plain daft, and I am confident Tony Wilson would not approve. In 1991 as a young architect, and ex Manchester student, I returned to Manchester to set up my practice, following a year working in New York. I proposed a Manchester International Festival in 1992 which was rejected by the then leaders of the Council on the grounds it would compete with their annual Sunday afternoon Mayor's Parade. Tony Wilson, then head of Factory Records, invited me to submit my proposal and it morphed into Europe's biggest urban music event and ran for over 15 years contributing to the regeneration of Manchester, culturally and economically. Tony Wilson, like me loved Manchester, moreover he had a love of Architecture. I gave him a Japan Architect monograph of Tadao Ando as a present, and years later he was responsible for introducing Ando to Manchester.
Like me, Tony was a socialist, and deeply concerned about the deepening economic divide within society. I cannot imagine him supporting what appears to be a "vanity" project when Manchester has a critical problem with homeless people sleeping on it's streets. Moreover the idea of a European Architect collaborating with a London Architect to "reflect" the history and culture of Manchester ia anathema to the legacy of Factory culture - a local, independent enterprise, and the antithesis of "capitalist" mainstream culture.
Chris Roche / 11.04 Architects Founder and Mancunian.
I have been arguing for years that the Stirling Prize "concept" is not fit for purpose and needs a radical rethink. Clearly you cannot compare chalk with cheese and to do so risks alienating the wider public's understanding and appetite for Architecture. Ed Jones (above) beat me to the point that the Stirling Prize needs to evolve into a wider platform "the oscars" of Architecture, celebrating the best architecture within a number of widely different genre. If done well the profession may be able to recapture TV interest beyond a 5 minute slot on the BBC news channel. Bloomberg is a brilliant building and has been uncritically compared to St. Paul's - ironic as they serve different faiths.
Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects
Instead of offering an opinion poll on the merits or otherwise of this building, the AJ could initiate a Campaign/Petition to save the building. It would be a travesty if enforcement action were to be taken on the aesthetic subjectivity of the cladding material. If however it can be proven that the Architect has violated the Planning Approval, then an Appeal would be the first course of action, which if found against the Architect then a proportionate penalty could be found which does not involve demolition. Planning Law is a mess and needs to be overhauled.
If Government Ministers are choosing to ignore the advice of experts and professional opinion then it needs to be made clear to them they will be held accountable, including the possibility of facing a charge of "Corporate Manslaughter" as proposed by Labour's John McDonnell.
Comment on: The Coach: ‘How can I become a developer?’
The question of how an architect can become a developer is one I have been considering for 30 years, ever since I adopted Roger Zogolovitch's Paper "The Architect as Developer" for an RIBA Part 3 question. Subsequently I launched a self-build/self-development group entitled DIY Lofts with view to co-ordinating a like minded group of individuals through the process of purchasing and developing a large building into an apartment community. Our first project was Hoxton House, 1 Hoxton Street, Hoxton - at a time only the brave would venture into what is now arguably the creative epicentre of East London. At the height of the crash in 2010, when Architect's Fees were at rock bottom it became clear that Architecture was no longer a viable business option without accompanying development skills and opportunities. I then sold my Shoreditch Studio to the Pet Shop Boy's for a recording studio; sold my house to the Costume Designer for The Harry Potter movies, paid of my then crippling £250,000 mortgage and began development in earnest. To share my experience with others I wrote a book - "The Property Developer's Handbook" (Haynes/Amazon) and now regularly give lectures to Part 3 students. If you are only interested in making money there are probably easier ways, however if you value your skill and judgement as an architect, and wish to take greater control of your career, creativity and finances then I would encourage all architects to consider this opportunity.
Chris Roche / Founder 11.04 Architects.