Hodder + Partners has replaced Ken Shuttleworth’s practice Make on a controversial high-rise scheme in Manchester, backed by footballers-turned-developers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs
The news comes just hours after Make announced it had resigned from the contentious St Michael’s development, claiming that the ’current direction’ of the project ’did not align with [its] ambition for the site and [that it was] right to step aside’.
Stephen Hodder, former RIBA president and founder of Hodder + Partners, was already partly involved in the project, having been brought into review the troubled scheme which had come in for heavy criticism – despite a redesign earlier this year.
However, while a ‘frustrated’ Neville hinted there would be further changes to the two 31 and 21-storey towers, speaking at the MIPIM property fair in March, there had been no mention of design team changes.
The switch is even more surprising given that Shuttleworth had been collaborating with Neville on the £200 million project for more than 10 years, during which time he also drew up unrealised proposals for the former England defender’s home.
Explaining the decision, a spokesperson for the partnership behind the scheme for the St. Michael’s development said that Hodder’s involvement had led the team ’to a different philosophy’ which it was hoped would ’command a greater level of support’.
The statement reads: ’Stephen Hodder and his team were brought in three months ago to contribute design ideas. They are now focussed on submitting revised proposals for a successful mixed-use development at St. Michael’s.
‘It was clear that a different design approach was required’
’In light of the overall response to the first proposal, it was clear that a different design approach was required. We reflected whether the original solution met the overall objectives for the site and Stephen Hodder was brought in as part of that challenge process. This led to an extensive review of the approach.’
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Since Make revealed its designs for the 201-bedroom hotel, 159-apartment and office scheme last summer, the project has regularly been in the headlines.
Opposition to the skyscrapers has focused on their size and on concerns over the future of the 1950s-built Manchester Reform Synagogue in Jackson’s Row and the nearby Neoclassical Bootle Street Police Station (1937). Both were scheduled to be torn down to make way for the Make-designed development, and in January were named on The Twentieth Century Society’s top 10 list of buildings most at risk.
The proposed demolition of the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub in the former St Peter’s Fields, the only building remaining from the time of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, has also provoked local opposition.
Two major public consultations, minor design alterations and a change in colour of the towers from black to bronze did little to appease objectors to the plans.
A petition against the scheme, claiming the ‘huge dark towers’ were in the wrong place, received more than 4,500 signatures.
Historic England was also unconvinced by the original Make designs, saying it was deeply concerned about the proposal, which ‘would aggressively push itself into the existing streets, dominating its surroundings and dwarfing the nationally important civic buildings which define this part of the city’.
An exact timescale for the revised proposals is not yet known.