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

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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


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