The Queen's Dock waterfront scheme at the southern gateway to the city centre will create 135 flats, most of which will be housed in the 69m-tall tower above a pair of three-storey plinths.
The Manchester-based practice had originally drawn up plans for a 9,200m 2super casino and leisure resort on the site. However the developer, wealthy businessman Amaury Taittinger, from the champagne family, decided to submit a revised application for this housing-led scheme after the government turned its back on a regional casino on Merseyside.
Owned by English Partnerships, the garden festival area has seen only sporadic, piecemeal development since its closure 20 years ago.
Architect Gill Robinson hopes the project will kick-start regeneration in the neighbourhood and that it will be a catalyst for more skyscraper developments.
She said: 'This tower could be the first of a cluster of tall buildings which are set to transform the southern end of the city-centre river frontage.'
The project also includes plans for a roof terrace and residents' health club.