Manchester City Council has launched the search for a design team to lead the development of the £110m Factory arts centre, which is due to open in summer 2019.
The construction of The Factory is part of the £1.2bn plans for the St John’s neighbourhood, which will see the delivery of up to 3,000 residential units, 600,000 sq ft of workspace, and a mix of hotels and cultural buildings.
St John’s is being brought forward by a joint venture between developer Allied London and Manchester City Council, following the acquisition of the 13-acre former ITV Granada site in 2013.
The Factory has been earmarked as the permanent home of the Manchester International Festival and will provide a venue for theatre, music and art events.
The centre will be funded by a £78m commitment from central government announced in the autumn statement last year, alongside money from the Arts Council and receipts from the wider St John’s scheme.
Speaking at the launch of The Factory at Old Granada Studios this morning, Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said that centre would be “an institution the likes of which doesn’t exist anywhere in the world.”
He said: “The venue will be a flexible space, and could be something like the Royal Opera House in the morning, and the Warehouse Project in the afternoon.
“The practical start of the development of home is the launch of the bidding process. We are looking for a design team, but we are not looking for a design itself.”
Tender documents will be available through the council’s procurement site on The Chest. A team is due to be appointed by November, with a planning application submitted in May 2016, and a start on site expected in 2017.
Speaking to Place North West, Sir Howard Bernstein, chief executive of Manchester City Council, said that the design competition was wide open.
“We just want to appoint the best”, he said. “It’s not about names, it’s about quality. The design team needs to be creative but practical, and understand the importance of collaboration. The client is the council and MIF, and the team needs to be able to work to the very specific brief we have for this building to turn it into a living, dynamic product.”
A masterplan for the former ITV Granada site was approved by the council in October. The plan was developed by SimpsonHaugh & Partners for Manchester Quays Limited, the joint venture between Allied London and Manchester City Council.