New St Michael's

Construction of the office phase is underway. Credit: Revere

Global architect makes Manchester debut at St Michael’s

The architect behind Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and New York’s One World Trade Center has been brought in to deliver the £200m Manchester city centre project, with Hodder + Partners retaining a design guardian role, Place North West can reveal.

Earlier this month, Place North West reported Laing O’Rourke was set to build the scheme, and the contractor has brought Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on board as part of its team.

The practice has worked on high-profile projects across the globe including the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre; the Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, Bahrain; and the 72-storey Hudson Yards in Manhattan, as well as the Burj Khalifa, currently the world’s tallest building.

In the UK, it has delivered projects in London including 100 Leadenhall, known as the Cheesegrater. St Michael’s will be its first scheme in Manchester.

Hodder + Partners, the practice responsible for successfully achieving planning consent on what has been a controversial project, will continue to represent the St Michael’s Partnership, made up of ex-footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs, Manchester City Council, and Singaporean funder Rowsley.

St Michaels Square Image Jun18

CGI of the square that will front the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub

Speaking to Place North West, Stephen Hodder said he’d agreed to stay within the team “as we’ve worked on this for two years, and turned the scheme around. I now feel that I have a civic responsibility as design guardian, to ensure the project is delivered as per the planning consent. As the design develops, it needs to be fully compliant, and I’ve been reassured that it will be delivered along the lines of what has been approved.”

SOM’s appointment will make it the third major architecture practice to work on the scheme. The first design, featuring two high-rise, black-clad towers of 39 and 29 storeys, was put forward by Make Architects in July 2016.

The proposals would have seen the demolition of all the buildings on the plot, including the Sir Ralph Abercromby pub and Bootle Street police station. The scheme inspired fierce opposition, with a petition reaching thousands of signatures, protesting against the height in such a central location, and the loss of the historic assets.

Hodder + Partners was then brought on board due to a historically close working relationship with the City Council, and a refreshed proposal followed in summer 2017, featuring a single 40-storey lozenge-shaped tower, clad in bronze anodized aluminium. The Abercromby pub and the façade of the Bootle Street police station was retained as part of the revised plans.

Planning consent was secured for the scheme 12 months ago. The project would total 189 apartments; 216 hotel bedrooms; nearly 150,000 sq ft of offices; retail and restaurants, and includes a new synagogue.

Neville has previously said the construction is likely to take around take three-and-a-half years to complete, with the potential to be delivered in phases, with the commercial and hotel element delivered first, likely within two-and-a-half years.

At the last published estimate in March last year, the scheme had a construction value of £135m and would create 500 construction jobs, although costs are now understood to be higher.

BCEGI was formerly on board as main contractor, but stepped away from the project before Laing O’Rourke joined the team on a pre-construction services agreement. The professional team also includes Hoare Lea and Zerum.

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Better than what was first planned but still deeply inappropriate. This was one of the most objected to planning applications in Manchester’s history with around 11,000 signatures on the petition.

By Acelius

This tower can be built anywhere in Manchester the fact that it has been given consent in the historic quarter is a disgrace, what is just as disconcerting is the relationship between Hodder and Manchester council.

By MrWhite

‘a design guardian role’. Can we have one of these for the whole of the city centre please?

By H Simpson

awful design and in the worst possible place. Zero thought for Albert Sqaure.

By Anonymous

Has it not crossed anybody’s mind that the waged little people granted the power by public authorities to make mega-money decisions are not making irrational decisions at all. They could be deciding very rationally: in their own self interest. Still, things like that happen only far away in foreign countries. Right?

By James Hayes

Oh dear…. someone sounds a touch bitter.

It’s hardly the historic quarter. Spinningfields is only across the road.


Imagine ruining your city and calling yourself a guardian. Narcissism at it’s finest. This shouldn’t be shown a seat at the table, Manchester deserves so much more. Over and over again, we’re being sold short by architects and the council alike.

By l131b

Let the VE commence.

By an ordinary architect

I am not sure what people in Manchester want? Have they visited the other regional English cities?There is more going on in a square mile of Manchester than the rest of those cities combined. The city is flourishing and it is dynamic. This is not that bad and it is not being built in an area that blessed with great architecture. Bootle street police station façade is being kept and the historic pub. Lincoln square is a dump and has been for decades so there is nothing to spoil there. I am puzzled at why there is such derision towards this tower?

By Elephant

‘design guardian’ – Manchester’s already got one – name of Leese I believe!

By noel david

Elephant, I agree.


Could not agree more with Elephant.
It’s a beautiful scheme.

By Anonymous

Strange to bring on a signature architect at this stage?
The scheme still doesn’t have funding so not sure when the suggested start on site is??

By Query

This is totally ridiculous, there are random mundane tower blocks going up all over the shop, I like tall buildings but they should be clustered together not popping up here there and everywhere. Apparently the ordinary people’s opinions don’t matter in Manchester anymore.

By Fuming

Fantastic news! Cant wait for this one to start rising.

By Anonymous

Clearly people have a lack of understanding in urban design and place making. Although I am not against the architecture of the building there is a reason that there isn’t a single tower around this scheme. That is because the councils position WAS not to allow for tall buildings in this area. Now if you look where the the majority of towers are being given approvals, along the Mancunian Way and coming into the city to around the locks and then the other side of town, Spiningfield and along the Irwell. This is a clear strategy of clustering them then we have this!

By MrPink

Its all about the location for this one. Drop it a few hundred yards in to Spinningfields or First Street and I think the cast majority would be behind it. But within the historic civic Quarter this development will stand out like a sore thumb. That it has secured consent says lot about local politics, decision making and friends in the right places. I wish Manchester was confident enough to say no this scheme.


I think its looks rather good. The juxtaposition between the old and new I would suggest at least is a strong symbol of Manchester in general. Stagnation is what kills a city both socially and economically, Manchester is a far more vibrant and exciting city now than it was even 10 years ago, (speaking as someone who lived there for 4 years and is still local).

By 4thought

Good news, I’m glad the many supporters of this scheme will see this realised. No doubt the spoiled anti development lot will be sulking now as they didn’t get their way.

By Dan

Also agree with Elephant – not everyone can be happy with schemes. We either develop as a city and grow and change in an overall positive direction or we stagnate and forget about being a Northern Power House.

By NQ Resident

It is a shame that those ugly buildings facing the Town Hall can’t be bulldozed and then Albert and Lincoln squares could be made into one great plaza.The Hidden Gem on one side St Michael’s on the other and a huge open space between them with some decent landscaping.

By Elephant

Dear God, do people who call this a historic quarter ever walk down these streets? Bootle Street is an unwelcoming view of air conditioning units & the backs of buildings, with impassable pavements (& stench) due to all the overflowing bins from the bars & restaurants on Peter Street. (What are the plans for all those bins)? Jacksons Row is marginally better but still with no real street level interaction.
Get it built & make this a more pleasant area to walk around.

By Bin Juice

I think it looks great – get it built!

By Superhans

The design of this building isn’t really the problem. I mean it is as underwhelming and dull as any other block appearing in northern cities at the moment with Manchester leading the way. Interesting towers cost too much to build unless you can charge London prices once complete. The problem for me as other people have already stated is the location. It looks so out of place and simply doesn’t belong there.

By Common cents

The sun in the second cgi, Abercromby & the new square, is shining from the North?

By Homing pigeon

Although I think the tower could be better I’m glad it’s getting built. I walk through this area everyday on my way to work and it has very few redeeming qualities. The sooner it gets transformed the better.

By Anonymous

Anywhere but here. Design and place-making are truly brilliant but this is just not suited to the location. Everyone would welcome the regeneration of the no mans land around Bootle Street, but the height absolutely destroys Albert Square. There is a reason so many have objected – and it’s not just the ‘anti development lot’.

Catch 22 considering land values, unfortunately it’s either built with height or not built at all.

By Anon

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