Tender out for £7m Manchester Cathedral extension

On behalf of Manchester Cathedral, Dooley Associates has launched the search for an architect to deliver a £7m extension to the west end of the building, as part of £15m of refurbishments.

The appointment of an architecture practice will form part of Manchester Cathedral’s stage one Heritage Lottery Fund bid to support the project.

According to Dooley, as part of the tender, practices will be asked to produce a design that is “aspirational and symbolic and that will both preserve and enhance the heritage and character of the Cathedral’s existing west façade, and help the Cathedral to become a more recognisable symbol within the aspiration of creating a medieval tourist and cultural quarter for the city”.

Dooley Associates is working with Manchester Cathedral as project manager and quantity surveyor to co-ordinate and control 17 projects of work, involving cost planning, procurement and delivery of projects ranging in value up to £7m. Work includes the installation of the 14-tonne organ on the medieval screen and a new lighting and sound installation being developed with BDP.

Aspects of the west end designs should include:

  • Provision for public access to the top of the tower, including viewing arrangements and possible exhibition space at the base
  • High-quality retail with flexibility of layout, to be combined with provision for storage of stock and office space
  • Multi-purpose learning and meeting spaces, offering a range of attendance numbers between six and 35, in at least two venues

The deadline for design proposals is October 2015, with the appointment of the chosen consultant expected in November 2015.

Brendan Dooley, managing director of Dooley Associates, said: “Our work with the Cathedral has been fantastic and kept our heritage and conservation division busy since 2013. The OJEU notice for lead architect is just one, although very important, element of the overall project and we’re hoping to get some really inspiring submissions.”

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Manchester City Council needs to remove a lot of the tat around the cathedral including the ‘bridge to nowhere’; the old disused railway bridge leading to a dreadful car park opposite. This spoils what could be a beautiful view of the cathedral set in the River Irwell.

By Paul Blackburn

Praise the lord.

By Peter

The 19th C bridge was/ (still is) the Station Approach to Exchange Station. What is needed is the old statue of Oliver Cromwell taken out of Wythenshawe Park, his sword returned to his hand and be placed back on his pedestal facing the Cathedral’s west door.

By Jeremiah

But Exchange Station has gone and the area really could look a lot better if the setting of the cathedral against the river could be restored as it would have been when the church was built.

By Paul Blackburn

Wouldn’t really be able to see the river and the cathedral together in one “shot” easily anyway from most angles. Better to make more use of the Exchange Station site, replace the awful car park with a juicy headline resi development and increase footfall in this bit of the city centre (walking past the front of the cathedral is eerily quiet most days, and has become a bit of a haven for vagrants).

By Heritage

Partially agree with you Heritage old bean, but a piece of well designed public realm ( ie not empty hard places with large television screens etc like the recent Co Op /Hanover square yuk, but more gardenesque green space would still be preferable to outright commercial or residential ‘ development’. I quite like the fact we have some peace and quiet at this end of town..eerie or not, it’s welcome to me.

By Jeremiah

But have you looked at the cathedral from the other side of the river in Salford. It’s that bridge that spoils what could otherwise be a beautiful cathedral setting. I would say that Salford has more vision than Manchester in that regard as it has opened the area up partially with imaginative public realm. Manchester needs more space to breath not less and what better place to provide it than between the cathedral and the river Irwell. The Irwell is blocked and inaccessible all over the city. The area by the cathedral really could be the best spot in Manchester but access to the river should be the top priority.

By Paul Blackburn

Open up the cathedral steps tunnels again for an underground market, make it touristy, old fashioned and quirky. Or maybe a museum? Have a small bridge over the Irwell connecting it to Greengate square. Have an entrance to the tunnels below by exchange square or cathedral gardens. It’d be awesome.

By Anonymous