Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

No architects on Manchester’s Factory competition jury


The jury choosing a design team for Manchester’s £110 million art space, The Factory, does not include a single architect

A stellar shortlist of practices vying for the job, including OMA and Zaha Hadid Architects, was revealed last week.

But the contest for the 2,200-capacity venue on the former Granada Studios site will not be judged by an architect. Instead, the jury will be made up of council leader Richard Leese, Urban Splash director Tom Bloxham and Allied London chief executive Michael Ingall supported by a technical panel, the city council has announced (see full list below).

Angela Brady, former RIBA President and director at Brady Mallalieu Architects, said: ‘It is imperative there is at least one experienced architect on the selection panel to vet the list and ask the right questions on experience, design resources and capabilities in tackling certain problems that would arise with such a complex project.’

This is not necessarily good practice

Chris Williamson, director at Weston Williamson and chair of the RIBA Competitions Review Panel, added: ‘They are at liberty to appoint who they want but this is not necessarily good practice.’

Robin Snell said: ‘In my view a competition winner is only as good as the jury selecting them.’

In response Leese said: ‘This is not a design competition but a tender for design services, for an architect to lead a team to work closely in a collaborative manner, to achieve the artistic and creative ambition of the technical brief.’

‘The appointed design team will work with the stakeholders to develop both the brief and the design.

‘The jury panel will provide the necessary leadership during this process and are all experienced in the commissioning of award winning public and private developments.’

Public procurement lawyer David McGowan at Maclay Murray & Spens confirmed that EU rules do not require the council to include an architect for a design services procurement.

‘If this was a design competition and the client required specific architectural qualifications from suppliers, then there would have been rules requiring architects as members of the jury.’

Jury in full:

  • Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council
  • Tom Bloxham, chairman of the Manchester International Festival and Urban Splash
  • Michael Ingall, chief executive of Allied London

The judges will be supported by a technical panel which includes:

  • Maria Balshaw, director of the Whitworth, University of Manchester and Manchester City Galleries
  • Pat Bartoli, head of the council’s City Centre Regeneration Team
  • John McGrath, artistic director and chief executive of the Manchester International Festival
  • Greg Attwood, development director at Allied London.
  • Dave Carty, development manager of the council’s City Centre Regeneration


Previous story (AJ 23.09.15)

Stellar shortlist revealed for Manchester’s new £110m arts venue

Zaha Hadid Architecture and Rem Koolhaas’ OMA are among nine outfits competing for Manchester’s new £110 million flexible art space – named The Factory

Mecanoo, High-Line architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro and local firm Simpson Haugh and Partners are also shortlisted for the high-profile job.

 Full shortlist

  • Rafael Viñoly Architects
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro
  • Bennetts Associates
  • Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA)
  • Zaha Hadid Architecture
  • SimpsonHaugh and Partners
  • Grimshaw Architects
  • Mecanoo International
  • Haworth Tompkins Limited 

A total of 48 applications were received by competition organiser Manchester City Council (MCC) for the architect role.

MCC’s executive member for culture and leisure Rosa Battle said: ‘The level of international interest reflects the city’s emerging status as an internationally-renowned city of culture. This is a landmark development that will place Manchester in the highest tier of arts worldwide.’

Planned to complete in 2019, the 2,200-capacity venue will be constructed on the former Granada Studios site within the city centre. The cost for the full construction and fit out will be £110 million.

As announced in last year’s Autumn Statement, the project will receive more than £75 million from central government and forms part of the Northern Powerhouse initiative to transform Manchester and its wider region into a ‘cultural and economic counterbalance’ to the capital.

The winning team will work with MCC and Allied London – the council’s development partner for the television centre regeneration – to develop the scheme.

The arena is expected to become the new home of the Manchester International Festival (MIF) and will have a capacity for 2,200 seated observers or 5,000 standing guests.

It is named after Factory Records which started in Manchester in 1978 and promoted a raft of influential bands including Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.

Ian Simpson won a competition to design the commercial and residential elements of the 370,000m² Granada Studios regeneration job – dubbed St. John’s – last summer.

The winner of the latest £9.5 million design contract is expected to be announced in mid-November.

Judges include MCC leader Richard Leese, Allied London chief executive Michael Ingall and Manchester International Festival chair and Urban Splash co-founder Tom Bloxham.

The appointed architect will lead a design team featuring mechanical and electrical consultants, structural and civil engineers, a quantify surveyor, fire engineer, theatre consultant and acoustic engineer (shortlists below).

A planning application will be submitted by May next year with construction expected to commence in January 2017.

Other shortlists

Theatre Consultants

  • Fisher Dachs Associates
  • Charcoalblue
  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • Theatre Projects Consultants
  • Theatreplan

Structural and Civil Engineers

  • Expedition Engineering
  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • WSP UK
  • Buro Happold
  • Mott MacDonald

Building Services Engineers

  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • Buro Happold
  • WSP UK (Trading as WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff )
  • Max Fordham
  • Mott MacDonald

Cost Consultant

  • Turner & Townsend Cost Management
  • Gardiner & Theobald
  • Gleeds Cost Management
  • EC Harris
  • Rider Levett Bucknall (UK)

Fire Engineers

  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • WSP UK (Trading as WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff )
  • Buro Happold
  • Hoare Lea and Partners

Acoustic Engineers

  • Ove Arup & Partners
  • Building Design Partnership
  • Buro Happold
  • Kahle Acoustics sprl
  • Threshold Acoustics



Readers' comments (3)

  • Since it is apparently not a design competition, what is the function of the 'technical panel', which appears to have only one person with experience in delivering buildings? And how can a technical brief have 'artistic and creative ambition? For Manchester, uncharacteristically unsure-footed.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • If there is no architect on the panel, they clearly do not believe that an architect will add value at this point. This is indicative of the slippage in the positioning of the architect in the process. Perhaps we should focus on what matters to the client body, not the profession to ensure relevance.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Chris Roche

    Surely the omission here is not that there isn't an Architect on the judging panel, but that there isn't an architect in a lead role as Design Manager as part of the procurement team. Moreover there does not appear to be a Project Manager advising the client team. An objective panel is critical, and a transparent selection process. The quality of the architects on the short-list is clear and there can be little doubt about their ability to deliver.
    Perhaps there is a wider Legacy issue which has been overlooked which reflects the influence of Factory's founder on Manchester. Maybe Anthony Wilson's son Oliver could have an honorary position within the Team to ensure the spirit of Factory is embodied in the project. 11.04 Architects started in Manchester and Anthony Wilson was our first client for an International Festival of Music which we pitched to the City Council but was rejected. Factory ran with it and it became In The City - Europe's largest Urban Music Event.

    Chris Roche Founder 11.04 Architects / Mancunian

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs