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Architect announced for £330m Manchester Town Hall revamp

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AJ100 practice Purcell has been announced as the architect for the refurbishment of the Grade I-listed Manchester Town Hall 

According to Manchester City Council, the £330 million ‘repair and upgrade’ project will bring the 1860s building designed by Alfred Waterhouse up to ’modern access and safety standards’.

The practice won the major scheme ahead of Avanti Architects, BDP, Hawkins\Brown, Donald Insall Associates, SimpsonHaugh, and Ryder Architecture. 

The works will include restoring the  Great Hall and its Ford Madox Brown murals, as well as external repairs to the roof, stonework and drains. The council also says ‘significant work’ is needed to address the electrics, heating, ventilation and lifts in the building. 

Mark Goldspink, Purcell’s chief executive officer, said: ‘Our aim is to bring town hall back to the cultural heart of Manchester City as a flagship destination. One of the other key issues we are looking at is we what call “social values”, which is the training and development of heritage conservation skills in Manchester and the North West.’

He added: ‘We are looking forward to working closely with Manchester City Council and our project partners.’

Deputy leader of Manchester City Council Bernard Priest said: ’The work required to repair and upgrade the Town Hall will demand real expertise and dedication, so we have selected our consultants with great care.

’We look forward to working with them on this once-in-a-lifetime project, which will secure and enhance the long-term future of Manchester’s treasured civic centrepiece.’

Paul Candelent, who was appointed as project director in March and was formerly regional director for the North and Midlands at the Capita group, said he was ’immensely impressed’ with the ’quality of the bids’ for the project. 

The work is expected to take seven years to complete. 

In 2015, SimpsonHaugh completed its refurbishment of the Grade II*-listed extension to Manchester Town Hall with Ryder Architects, which included a new customer service centre. 

Full shortlist

  • Purcell (winner) 
  • Avanti Architects
  • BDP
  • Donald Insall Associates
  • Hawkins\Brown
  • Ryder Architecture
  • SimpsonHaugh

Project data 

Architect Purcell
Structural and Civil Engineers Ramboll UK Ltd
Landscape Design Planit IE LLP
Building Services & Engineering Ove Arup & Partners Ltd
Quantity Surveying Faithful+Gould 

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Geoff Williams

    This prestige building with its historic value to the City of Manchester is obviously high on the country's preservation list.The existing building features artistic treasures that must be protected. The wooden content is high which makes it vulnerable to the possibility of fire. Accordingly, high-quality prevention and detection systems must be employed to safeguard the property and its occupants against the possibility of fire. It is recommended that type MICC fireproof cable is used for all fire rated circuits and services. A system that is proven to sustain the electrical supply in fire conditions.

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  • Geoff Williams

    Further to my earlier comments. The danger of fire in historic buildings where the use of wooden structures are clearly evident poses a high risk of fire. Fighting fire in congested City locations internally is an increasing hazard for fire fighters. Maintenance of the electrical supply is paramount. Experts in Germany maintain that up to 40% of fires Worldwide have an electrical cable origin. The use of a 2hour fire rated cable, preferably MICC, should be mandatory, in all historic buildings.

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