The Factory May 2018 5
The OMA-designed structure is intended as a permanent home for Manchester International Festival

The Factory appoints expert to keep project on track

Sarah Townsend

Manchester City Council has enlisted the help of Flan McNamara, a former construction chief at the developer of London’s Shard tower, to progress the 143,000 sq ft arts venue.

McNamara has been appointed as a consultant to work alongside main contractor Laing O’Rourke to deliver the project, which is running behind schedule and over budget.

A Manchester City Council spokesperson said: “The Factory is going to be a venue like no other and, as you would expect, an international building of this scale and ambition brings with it a significant degree of challenge and complexity.

“It’s great therefore to have Flan on board for the next phase of the project, to help see it through to completion.”

Billed as a modern and innovative arts and culture hub for Manchester, The Factory was designed by Office for Metropolitan Architecture, or OMA, a studio founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

The venue is intended to provide a permanent home for Manchester International Festival and is a key part of the St John’s mixed-use neighbourhood being brought forward by the city council and developer Allied London under its Enterprise City brand.

The Factory has received a £78m Government grant and £7m of National Lottery funding, as well as £20m from Manchester City Council in 2018.

However, the council noted in a report last month that delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and other challenges, mean the project needs an additional £45m to complete. The council increased the budget to £186m and intends to secure the extra cash from the Government and through fundraising by The Factory Trust, the project’s fundraising vehicle.

Meanwhile, the completion date has slipped to December 2022 from 2019 when the project was first announced in 2014.

McNamara, former construction director at Sellar Property Group, the developer of the Shard on London’s South Bank, has now been drafted in as a consultant to Manchester City Council to help get the project back on track.

McNamara, who was project director on the wider £2bn London Bridge Quarter, which contained the Shard tower, left Sellar Property in 2017 and is now a director at building consultancy Osborne & Co.

In a previous role at construction group Schal, he worked on the refurbishment of the Royal Opera House in Sydney the late 1990s. It is understood that he has been tasked with making sure The Factory hits its ] completion deadline of December 2022 and to ensure project costs remain in line with the council’s latest budget estimates.

McNamara has been contacted for comment.

 

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It’s such a shame that £186m is being spent on such an ugly building. The budget is clearly being spent on consultancy rates and not on inspiring architecture or quality materials. There must be a lot of people doing “very well thank you very much” on this project.

By Mancunian

So, are we to assume that nobody was ‘ keeping the project on track’, while the costs (public money) spiralled from £110m in 2015 to £186m now?
The construction alone was £86m in 2015, so how can that figure have doubled in five years – is the building made of solid gold?

By T Wilson

This project seems like a money pit. It’s not even an attractive building.

By Jon P

Great project, love the design

By Anonymous

It appears there is no end to the cash that will be handed to this project

By Concerned

The things they could have done with that kind of money…they could have invested in world-class architecture like Zaha Hadid Architects but instead…This building is so confusing and really unattractive – a complete disaster for a project of this scale.

By Michael

Why do so many schemes of this type seem to run wildly over budget? Whatever happened to value engineering?

By Mark Gilbertson

A question: how much are they paying for the land, and what analysis has been done on these Covid costs – seems like a scapegoat rather than a fundamental cause?

By streets of gold