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Manchester announces Piccadilly Gardens five

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John McAslan & Partners, Allies & Morrison, Stanton Williams, Stephenson/Bell and Lifschutz Davidson have all been shortlisted to design a 14,000m 2building on Manchester's Piccadilly Gardens.

The high profile practices are competing to join Japanese architect Tadao Ando on the redevelopment of the city's main square. Ando has designed a 100m long concrete pavilion for the gardens - his first UK building.

The shortlisted architects will meet developer Argent today where they will be handed a more detai led br ief for the £60 million project. Stephenson/Bell is the only Manchester-based practice included on the list, which has been honed down from 75 expressions of interest.

The scheme, on the eastern side of the gardens, has outline planning permission for an office complex, but the developer hopes to include retail uses at ground level.The architects have until early May to submit their designs for the block and construction is due to start in 2001.

The competition is part of a masterplan drawn up by EDAW and the city council for the regeneration of the entire city centre and marks a shift of emphasis from the redevelopment of the 1996 IRA bomb site.Piccadilly Gardens was not hit by the blast but developers are now pouring £120 million into new schemes there.

On top of the Ando scheme and the new building on the gardens, Ove Arup & Partners and EDAW are redesigning the road and tram layouts around the square while Manchester-based Leslie Jones is redesigning the 1960s Piccadilly Plaza complex on the south side of the square.

Its plans include the demolition of the three existing buildings and the renovation of a hotel and shopping arcade which fronts onto the square. Property developer Portfolio Properties is ploughing £50 million into Piccadilly Plaza.

The Piccadilly Gardens site acts as the city's main transport hub for buses and trams and is just 200m from the mainline train station. 'This is like open-heart surgery on the city centre, ' commented Arup director, Roger Milburn.

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