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    Manchester Art Gallery


    Redesign of one of the city’s major cultural institutions enhances civic presence

    Location:Manchester, United Kingdom
    Size:10,500 m²
    Client:Manchester Art Gallery
    Awards:RIBA Regional Award;
    Concrete Society Award;
    Civic Trust Award;
    Royal Fine Art Commission Trust: Aggiornamento Award;
    Civic Society of Manchester: Phoenix Award.

    This complex redevelopment unites the former City Art Gallery building with the adjacent Athenaeum, both designed by Sir Charles Barry. In doing so, the project completes the city centre block, as well as delivering a single gallery complex fit for the twenty-first century.

    Previously, the gallery’s operations and ability to engage with the public had been constrained by its division between the two historic buildings. Our design radically improves the existing Pre-Raphaelite galleries, provides a new suite of contemporary galleries, and rectifies access, security and storage issues.

    The redevelopment was also an opportunity to repair an important part of Manchester’s city centre by extending the gallery onto a vacant car park to complete the city block. The new building, located on the site's eastern corner, directly reflects the scale and proportion of the Italianate palazzo-style Athenaeum, which becomes offices and a reading room.

    Industrial in character with an exposed concrete frame, the extension has infill cladding panels of locally quarried stone set within bronze sub-frames, and designed to compliment the stonework on the Athenaeum. The new building contains a continuous sequence of galleries on the first floor, and on the ground floor, a loading dock and spaces for retail and refreshment.

    A second volume is placed between the two on axis with the Gallery's main entrance portico, and flanked on either side by new, glass block service cores.

    At the heart of the site, a new linking element in steel and glass gives access to all levels and all corners of the precinct. Acting as an internal public square, this is articulated by two lifts, a bridge and a contemporary interpretation of a ceremonial stair.

    The result is a rejuvenated gallery precinct that presents a unified whole without compromising the identity of the two important Barry buildings.