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BFAW completes £9m MOSI refurbishment

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[First look + plans] Buttress Fuller Alsop Williams Architects has completed its £9 million redevelopment of the Grade II-listed Great Western Warehouse at Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI)

The practice has overhauled the ‘cluttered and confused’ entrance to the 1880 building as well as stripping out ‘inappropriate insertions’, rationalising spaces and removing the 35-tonne, three-storey ramp in the central atrium originally designed by Ian Simpson in 1988, while at BDP.

By adding two glazed stair cores to the Victorian warehouse, the practice has doubled the size of the ground-floor gallery space and reception areas.

The scheme, which opened to the public earlier this year, also includes extended conference facilities and an education suite on the second floor.

The Ian Simpson designed ramps at MOSI's Great Western Warehouse building, which were removed by BFAW as part of the £9 million overhaul

Before - the Ian Simpson-designed ramps at MOSI’s Great Western Warehouse building, which were removed by BFAW as part of the £9 million overhaul

The BFAW design was developed after original proposals for a £54 million museum quarter drawn up by the former head of Manchester School of Architecture, David Dernie, failed to win lottery funding in early 2008.

The architect’s view

The remodelling of the building addresses issues with people movement, and facilities that were designed for 250,000 visitors per annum; MOSI now consistently welcomes over 600,000 visitors per annum.  By regaining and re-using 570m2 of floor space in the atrium, and rationalising the floor plan, we have seen dramatic changes to the available space. The ground floor gallery space and reception have doubled in size and the corporate suite (+58 per cent) and education suites (+17per cent) are both able to run as independent entities, improving visitor experience and supporting the commercial offer of the museum.

Latest figures show there were nearly 100,000 visitors to MOSI during February 2011, compared to 66,400 during the same period last year, while catering and retail sales have flourished since the coffee shop, restaurant and gift shop reopened.

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