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History of Manchester Architecture – Part 2

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  • History of Manchester Architecture – Part 2

Daily Express Building, The Express Building, Great Ancoats St, Manchester M4 5DE

Located on Great Ancoats Street, Manchester, the Daily Express building is a Grade 2 listed building. Designed by engineer Sir Owen Williams, the building was designed to accommodate the Manchester office of the Daily Express with two other similar building in London and Glasgow.

The front façade of the building appears much younger than its age due to its timeless space age appearance in a futuristic art deco style. The building features horizontal lines and curved corners making it streamline moderne.

The Express building was built in the 1930s when the Daily Express was the most circulated newspaper in the world with sales of up to 2.25 million. The construction of the building had tot happen in stages, so printing was not disrupted.

Originally, it was possible for pedestrians to walk past the building and see the large newspaper printing press in the main hall. In the 1990s, the glass was made reflective so passers by could not see into the building as well as adding to its superior design.

The building has been extended four times in its lifetime but now has been converted into offices and apartments for the Expressnetworks company.

Urbis building, Cathedral Gardens, Corporation St, Manchester M4 3BG

Designed by a local architect firm the Urbis building was originally opened in June 2002 as part of the redevelopment of the Millennium Quarter as was to be used as a “Museum of the City”.  Standing proudly this magnificent building looks significantly like a ship breaking the waters while on a voyage.  Built over six storeys and displaying a distinctive sloping form this fully glazed beauty is placed within Exchange square, visitors were encouraged to visit the top floor so they could gaze over the magnificent skyline of Manchester.  Intended to be used as a major visitor attraction to the city to showcase the re-birth of inner-city life following the 1996 Manchester bombings.

Gaining £300 million funding from the Millennium Commission and £1 million a year from Manchester City Council toward running costs the council had great hopes for the attraction and they expected a minimum of 200,000 visitors but unfortunately this fell significantly short and the council were seriously considering closing the attraction down.  If this were to happen the Millennium Commission wanted a large part of the funding back, £20 million would be reclaimed if the council decided to close the Urbis. 

Management of the Urbis building decided that a new approach was needed and in December 2003 they decided to abolish the £5 admission fee, this worked, and the visitor figures steadily increased fivefold by April 2004.

In 2004 the radical decision was made to rebrand the museum into an exhibition centre which would focus on Manchester’s culture it was in fact one of the best decisions ever made visitors continue to increase and over a quarter of the visitors come from beyond the city.

CIS Tower, Miller Street, Manchester M4 4AH

This 387ft tower was built between 1959-1962 to showcase the co-operative movement in Manchester at the time of building it was the country’s tallest building with 28 floors and 388,000sqft of office space.

Enamelled steel, aluminium and glass were chosen to build this impressive building so that the exterior would stay clean in the polluted air of Manchester, a mural sculpted in fibreglass covers the rear wall of the entrance.  This building has an impressive 700,000sqyare feet of floor area with vast open space on the floors used for office space, teak and cherry wood veneers cover all of the executive areas of the building making it look and feel superior.

Th tower has a concrete service shaft which rises above the tower this is embossed in a mosaic that was designed to shimmer as the sunlight bounced of it, gaining listed building status in 1995 the mosaic was an ongoing concern as pieces kept falling away due to the lack of expansion joints in the cement, English Heritage must be made aware and authorise any alterations to this magnificent building.

This impressive grade 2 listed building still stands tall and proud today.  In 2004 the building was heavily renovated and fitted with solar panels which can generate up to 180,000 kWh of electricity a year and up to today’s date it still supply’s power to the national grid.  Costing over £5 million to install and partly funded by the Northwest Regional Development Agency and the Energy Savings Trust, this solar power phenomenon has been chosen by the Department of Trade and Industry as one of the best green energy project in 2005, lets not forget the 24 wind turbines situated of the building roof that generates over 10% of the towers electricity.

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