Photograph by Alan Williams

Whitworth named Building of the Year

The £15m redevelopment of the University of Manchester’s art gallery in Whitworth Park last night won Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce’s annual prize for best building in Manchester.

The winner was revealed at the chamber’s property and construction annual dinner by Baroness Beverley Hughes of Stretford.

Over 420 people attended the event, which saw the Whitworth beat five other finalists: Manchester Cancer Research Centre, Withington; Soapworks, Salford; National Graphene Institute; Victoria Station redevelopment; and Library Walk.

The winner was chosen by the chamber’s property and construction committee; 12 professionals from a range of businesses in the property and construction sector.

Steve Burne, chairman of the property and construction committee and managing director of AEW Architects, said: “The Whitworth has been selected as a worthy winner of this year’s Building of the Year Award as the project has been executed to perfection, bringing a unique social interaction back to a very important piece of heritage. It is rare to see a project with such obvious care and attention to detail, the result of which breathes new life into a building which plays a significant part in the local community.

“The architects and the gallery worked together to create a beautiful space which can be enjoyed equally by serious art lovers, casual visitors or the hordes of school children who sit on the floors of the galleries, excitedly drawing pictures and learning about art. It is rare to visit a building that takes your breath away and the Whitworth does just that.”

Last night also saw the Construction Apprentice of the Year Award, sponsored by the North West Skills Academy Ltd, presented to Connor Goodall, 17, from Golborne, Wigan, an apprentice plumber at Keepmoat. Connor was nominated because of the passion and enthusiasm he demonstrates for his role.

Alan Tinsley from Keepmoat, who nominated Connor, said: “Connor’s outlook on life has always been to strive to work hard no matter what is thrown your way. He always goes the extra mile – which goes down well with his colleagues and has a ‘can do’ attitude, a respect for his trade and shows great commitment at all times.

“Throughout his apprenticeship he has shown all the traits and characteristics that we look for in our employees, no task is ever too much. He has become a valued member of the team and makes a big contribution to achieving the ever expanding workload. He is well respected by all on site to the point where qualified plumbers will request for him to be put with them, which is the ultimate testimonial for any apprentice.”

Adam Early, nominated by Bolton at Home, and Paul Bryan, nominated by Forrest, were the other finalists. Liam Gray, nominated by Great Places Housing Group, and Joseph Roche, nominated by Mottram Decorators Ltd, were both highly commended by the judges.

The nominated charity for this year’s event was the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research –a charity which aims to eliminate the challenges of Prader-Willi Syndrome, which is a genetic disorder caused by dysfunction of a portion of the brain and impacts upon an individual’s ability to stabilise bodily functions including hunger and satiety, temperature and pain regulation.

SI Sealy & Associates and Coolair Equipment were the main sponsors of the event and Kier Construction and Bridge Insurance were associate sponsors. The Construction Apprentice of the Year Award was sponsored by the North West Skills Academy. Place North West was media sponsor of the event.

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A well-deserved winner. Visited Whitworth two weeks ago and it really is a stunning building. Much more impressive than some of the “art” on display.

By Andrew Field

The art on display truly is nonsense, but unfortunately that’s true of most galleries outside of London.

By Retep