Hodder + Partners has unveiled the latest designs for a contentious high-rise scheme in Manchester, backed by footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs
The new designs for the reworked St Michael’s proposal, which replaces an abandoned twin-tower design drawn up by original architect Make, have been unveiled as the revised schemes goes out for its second public consultation.
The latest images follow feedback from the first public consultation held last month. According to project-backers the St Michael’s Partnership, the banner used by Neville and Giggs, the new designs change the configuration of the single 134.5m centrepiece skyscraper into a ‘unique lozenge shape’, with a floating canopy supported by a three-storey colonnade at the crown of the building.
The partnership added that the redesign’s extensive glazing and light bronze façade provide a ‘more transparent approach’ than the previous design.
In June, Ken Shuttleworth’s practice announced it had resigned from the city centre development after almost a decade working on the job, saying that the current direction of the project ‘did not align with [its] ambition for the site and [that it was] right to step aside’.
The project was then handed to Stephen Hodder, who had been brought in to review the mixed-use scheme in March, after both of Make’s previous attempts had come in for heavy criticism – especially from local heritage campaigners.
On behalf of the St Michael’s Partnership, Gary Neville said: ‘We were encouraged by the generally positive response to July’s consultation and by calls from certain quarters to be bold in our ambition and create something remarkable on the city’s skyline.
‘We have kept faith with our central vision of creating a true world-class, mixed-use destination with a signature development of the highest quality, including residential living, Grade A offices, a five-star hotel, exciting retail and leisure units and unique outdoor spaces.’
He added that, subject to planning approval, the scheme will be on site by spring or early summer in 2018.
Hodder + Partners director Stephen Hodder said: ‘A tall building is, by its very nature, viewed in the round, it must never turn its back on the city. We have always maintained that the tower should have a north-south orientation, with residential accommodation facing east and west, presenting an elegant, ‘blade-like’ face to St. Ann’s Square. This suggested a building whose shape was narrow at the ends, and wider at its waist.’
Collage hodder new
Among the changes to the reworked scheme is the retention of the historic Sir Ralph Abercromby pub and frontage of the Neoclassical Bootle Street Police Station (1937). Both had been scheduled to be demolished to make way for the Make-designed development, and in January the police station was named on The Twentieth Century Society’s top 10 list of buildings most at risk.
The revised scheme will create 13,657m² of office space, 2,973m² of leisure space, 170 flats over 19 storeys, and a 200-bedroom hotel over 12 storeys.
But the 1950s-built Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row is still earmarked for demolition, with a new synagogue built within the podium of the proposed tower block.
The height of the scheme has been reduced by 2m and the tower’s footprint has been pushed to the western edge of the plot so it will be less obtrusive when viewed from St Ann’s Square.
The Spanish Steps-like valley that ran through the centre of the original design up to a high-level plaza has been dropped, with the ground floor level significantly opened up.
There will, however, be a new grand stair linking the development’s main hotel and residential skyscraper with the rooftop garden area of a lower nine-storey office block.
Hodder previously admitted that little, if any, of the Make scheme remained in the new designs and that his seven-strong team had effectively ‘started again’. He said: ’For a developer to tear up a previous scheme, in the belief that the scheme he now has is better, is quite extraordinary.
’To date the project has had such a [high] profile because of its location close to the civic centre, the way it was initially received and because of Gary. But people have got to look beyond the personality. I hope people will see what the new strategy – to weave the scheme into the fabric of the city – is all about.’
The new designs seem to have gone some way to appeasing Historic England, a key opponent of Make’s proposal. The heritage body said: ’The new masterplan, with its commitment to mixed use development and active street frontages is a more positive urban design response, outward looking and engaging with the street. It is therefore welcomed as a positive response.’
It added that ‘major steps have been taken to address the concerns regarding the impact of tall development on heritage assets of the highest significance’.
Members of the public can view the new designs at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, from 11am-7pm today, Wednesday 23 August. Finals plans are expected to be submitted to Manchester City Council in September.