Heritage, North West

Renovation of Manchester Town Hall Complex

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Two of Manchester’s best-loved historical buildings are undergoing a major transformation to bring them up-to-date and more usable for such a modern city.

The Town Hall Complex Transformation Programme started in 2009 and involves improvements to Manchester Town Hall Extension and Central Library, both of which are Grade 2* Listed.

The site has particular historical significance as the location of the Peterloo Massacre in 1819, when an estimated 18 protesters died as a result of being charged by cavalry. The site is also directly next to Manchester Town Hall, an impressive Victorian-gothic building which was completed in 1877.

The two 1930s building’s will be brought into the 21st century by greatly improving the facilities of Manchester Town Hall Extension for council staff and the public, and making Central Library a much more accessible and usable space.

The council believes that this is a chance to bring a new lease of life to these two 80 year old buildings and make them fit for purpose for another 80 years of civic service.

The main contractor on the £100 million project is Laing O’Rourke. The architect on Manchester Town Hall Extension is Ian Simpson Architects while the architect on Central Library is Ryder Architecture. Work began in 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in phases during 2013 and 2014.

The work on Manchester Town Hall Extension, which was originally built in the 1930s to provide extra space for local government staff, involves opening up and restoring the ‘Rates Hall’, extending Central Library into the lower ground floor and transforming the public spaces in the building.

For example, a one-stop Public Service Hub is being built which is hoped will transform the way the Council serves its customers. Upon entry to the hall, customers will be met by customer service staff and directed to where they need to go, receiving specialist advice in a private interview room, or using the self service computer or telephone areas.

Within the public service hub the original roof lights will be refurbished, making the space light and open. Light wells in the floor will allow natural light to stream into the extended Central Library in the lower ground floor. Included in this area will be a suite of meeting rooms with their own waiting area.

There will also be a cafe on the ground floor catering for staff and customers, with room for up to 80 people to sit.

Central Library is also undergoing major developments. As well as being extended into the lower ground floor of the Town Hall Extension, the library will provide a new Archives Centre, better access and more IT facilities for the public.

New layouts and technology will enable all types of visit, from groups working collaboratively on projects through to those who want to read or work in peace.

The project will also involve some landscaping thanks to the re-development of St Peters square, which is located at the front of Central Library. In addition, existing on-street parking will be replaced.

The project will incorporate some eco-friendly features, such as rainwater recycling, bio-diverse and green roofs, low energy devices, lead and brass recycling, timber restoration and recycled aggregates in concrete.

Work is due to be completed on the Town Hall Complex Transformation Project in phases, during 2013 and 2014.

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