Design team appointed for Manchester cultural facility

The development of First Street as a new creative and commercial quarter for the city has reached a milestone with the appointment of a design team for its new cultural facility.

Two unique Manchester creative organisations, Cornerhouse and the Library Theatre Company, are joining forces in a stunning purpose-built £19 million new home on the northern side of First Street. The new cultural facility will act as a catalyst for further development in the wider First Street area and help unlock up to 10,000 jobs.

Led by award-winning architects Mecanoo, whose high profile projects also include Manchester’s Co-operative Quarter and the new Birmingham city library, the design team will lead on developing the design for the new cultural facility. Mecanoo have designed a range of world-renowned arts venues including the Wei-Wu-Ying Center for the Arts in Taiwan and the Shenzen Cultural Complex in China. The team also includes two practices with presences in Manchester – Buro Happold, who are multi-disciplinary engineers, and quantity surveyors and design manager Davis Langdon (AECOM) -plus theatre planners theatreadvies bv.

Councillor Mike Amesbury, Executive Member for Culture and Leisure for Manchester City Council, said: “This appointment demonstrates Manchester’s commitment to world-class arts, which is also shown by high profile events such as Manchester International Festival. At a time when the arts world is facing severe cuts, this is a tremendous opportunity which will help support and attract jobs as well as creating a leading cultural attraction.We see the arts as a key ingredient in the mix which attracts investors and visitors to our city.”

Dave Moutrey, director and chief executive of Cornerhouse, said: “The appointment of the design team is a significant milestone for the project. Mecanoo’s submission really captured the vision we have for a flexible, vibrant, welcoming cultural space with a great social atmosphere. They also really understand the importance of consultation and engaging our audiences as a key part of the design process.”

Chris Honer, artistic director of the Library Theatre Company, said: “‘This building will be an engine-room to produce all kinds of new things in art, theatre, and film, and to foster a multitude of creative collaborations. It’ll be a great resource for the city.”

Francine Houben, founding architect and creative director of Mecanoo, said: “It’s an exciting challenge for us to design the new cultural facility in such a way that it will be a catalyst for First Street and create a complex which will interweave with the surroundings of Manchester.”

This appointment demonstrates the confidence that the Ask: Manchester City Council partnership have in creating a special new anchor destination for First Street, and represents the first wave of investment set to sweep across the project in forthcoming months.

Detailed design work will now begin with a view to starting on site in summer 2012. It is anticipated the new facility will open in spring 2014.

Note to Editors
The new cultural facility will act as a powerful catalyst to the regeneration of the 20-acre First Street site and its neighbourhood – bringing the area to life through increased footfall, attracting other leisure and retail investment and giving it a strong sense of place.

These changes will help stimulate the development of around 1.25 million sq ft of commercial floorspace which will be critical to meeting growing occupier demand as Manchester’s economy recovers from the economic downturn.