With four weeks to go until the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce announces its building of the year, Place North West reviews the projects which are competing as the best in the city region.
The shortlist reflects the breadth of the developments completed across Greater Manchester in the last year, but this poses the judges with a problem; how do you compare like with unlike? An office, a cancer centre, a hotel, and flexible workspace ‘inserted’ inside a listed building, are all contending for the top spot; each are distinct, and their impacts quantifiable in different ways.
Offices can face a hard battle in a best building shortlist; commercial pressures rather than aesthetics govern construction, and floorplates come before fripperies. However, when it comes to English Cities Fund’s 125,000 sq ft One New Bailey in Salford, its significance is not in its design (sorry Aedas). As a typical office monolith, it fulfils its purpose, but no matter your views on cladding or windows, the scheme has been an undeniable success.
News was out by MIPIM 2015 that ECf was close to a major pre-let; when it emerged that ‘magic circle’ London law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer would be creating an 80,000 sq ft Northern base, New Bailey became a development that epitomised the winds of change for a city (or two cities, as it sits on the very edge of Manchester and Salford) just emerging from the recession.
One New Bailey also acts as a positive indicator for things to come in the wider Salford Central regeneration masterplan, proving the wisdom in investing in what was a previously uninspiring patch of land. It is one piece in a jigsaw of a myriad of other projects; the regeneration of Salford Central station, Network Rail’s Ordsall Chord, a pipeline of 900 homes. At New Bailey, ECf is on site with two residential blocks totalling 220 flats, and a planning application is in for another 190,000 sq ft office.
New Bailey has certainly gone up in the world since it was the site of a Victorian prison; that it will now house one of the country’s leading law firms represents a true reversal of fortunes.
- The Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce will announce the Building of the Year at its annual property and construction dinner on 20 October