The University of Manchester’s £15m art gallery set in parkland off Oxford Road was today named among the six contenders for the annual celebration of the best of British architecture.
The extended and refurbished 126-year-old art gallery reopened in February to great acclaim and has since won several awards. The architect for the project was McInnes Usher McKnight Architects.
Since reopening, over 230,000 people have visited the gallery, breaking all previous annual records.
Prof Dame Nancy Rothwell, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Manchester, said: “The transformation of the Whitworth has been a significant project for the University of Manchester and I am delighted with MUMA¹s beautiful reimagining of the gallery in the park. The fact that RIBA has recognised the architectural importance of this new building makes me very proud. The Whitworth is a valued part of the University, housing internationally significant art collections. Now we also have a building which matches these collections and which can be enjoyed by local people, students, staff and visitors from around the world for many years to come.”
Maria Balshaw, director of the Whitworth, added: “MUMA’s sensitive extension and restoration of our building unlocks our potential as a university art gallery in a park. The collection and the knowledge held inside now connects to our local community of park users and the elegant, generous spaces for art are drawing people in from all over the world. We are delighted to have the quality of MUMA’s architecture recognized by inclusion on the Stirling Prize shortlist.”
The redevelopment, which was supported by a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant, the University of Manchester, Arts Council England and other funders, has doubled public space and created modern facilities including expanded gallery spaces, a study centre, learning studio, and a collections centre. At the heart of MUMA’s major renovation project is the creation of an elegant glass, stainless steel and brick extension, which sees two wings extend into Whitworth Park from the back of the existing 19th century building, connecting the gallery to the surrounding park beyond. For the extension, MUMA developed a unique Whitworth blend of British brick and a brickwork pattern with a traditional textile slash work effect, inspired by the gallery’s extensive textile collection.
Extensive refurbishment of the existing gallery building has restored the volume of the three 19th century barrel-vault exhibition gallery ceilings enabling the display of major, large scale international shows. Visitors can now also gain access to the reinstated Grand Hall on the first floor through glorious Edwardian staircases returned to public use for the first time in over 50 years.
The gallery received a national award from RIBA and won the RIBA NW Building of the Year award earlier this year. The Stirling Prize winner will be announced at a prestigious ceremony at RIBA headquarters in London on 15 October 2015.
Last year the RIBA Stirling Prize was won by the new £28m Everyman theatre in Liverpool, designed by Haworth Tompkins.
The project team included ISG, Manchester & Cheshire Construction, structural engineer Ramboll UK, services engineer Buro Happold, project manager Deloitte/Cragg Management Services, health and safety advisor AA Projects, cost consultant Appleyard & Trew, acoustic consultant Hann Tucker Associates, Sarah Price Landscaping, access consultant Lisa Foster Associates. fire engineer Buro Happold FEDRA.