Year in Review: The last 366 days of our Manchester Office

By Matt Dickinson

18 December 2020

Despite the difficulties faced this year we have continued to start new jobs, see jobs onto site, hand others over, and take a few more through to planning. Business as normal in some senses, but in unusual circumstances.

We have had a busy year within Manchester itself and we always enjoy being involved in schemes that support the ongoing vibrancy of development in the city. Some of our projects have included:
  • Completion and handover of the Contact Theatre. The extended and refreshed theatre will continue to cater for youth theatre and creative organisations as well as maintaining a unique offer to the arts world in Manchester. Working on this project, probably best known for it's ventilation chimneys, has been rewarding as we were able to see the original design we developed in 1996 continue to function as a fully fledged naturally ventilated theatre
  • The proposals and planning application for the Rylands Building (best known as Debenhams) on Market Street has been a considered process for us as we reconsider what we need from our city centre buildings. Developing a net zero carbon design proposal has led to a lot of interesting research and thinking we look forward to developing as the project progresses.
  • Taking the Pollard Street scheme to planning has been another sign of the continued investment in Manchester. The development by General Projects has been interesting for us with a unique building typology, providing a very different offer to the commercial sector. We enjoy watching the continual evolution of the New Islington area just a stone's throw from our office.

(c) Sheppard Robson

Contact Theatre, Manchester

We are looking forward to seeing more buildings handed over in Manchester next year and maintain the momentum of development in the city. Projects we can look forward to include:

  • The new gallery spaces at Manchester Musuem providing a new permanent gallery and a unique space for touring exhibitions
  • High specification laboratories as part of the ongoing Citylabs developments for Bruntwood on the St Mary's Hospital Campus.
Although we like working in Manchester, we also enjoy getting out and about. Even though it has not been easy this year, we have seen jobs throughout the north progress in 2020, such as these cultural projects:
  • The Backhouse Gallery in Bishop Auckland. Part of the ongoing investment in Bishop Auckland, this gallery focussing on medieaval Spanish Art hasn't quite made it to handover this year but will be up and running next year.
  • Work at the Wordsworth Museum continues with fit out of the museum underway following conservation works to Wordsworth's cottage as part of the Wordsworth organisation celebrating the 250th anniversary of the birth of the poet William Wordsworth
  • Further investment in the arts with National Museums Liverpool and the refurbishment of four galleries in the Walker Art Gallery which will see them returned to their original splendour
  • The refurbishment at extension of the Globe Theatre in Stockton-on-Tees to bring a high quality performance venue back to Stockton with a capacity of nearly 3000 seats. Hopefully handover will coincide with a return to something approaching normal and we can all enjoy a good night out.


Finally it is always nice to be considered for the big awards and the very deserving Oglesby Centre at the Halle Orchestra's rehearsal home in Ancoats has been recognised as one of the shortlisted projects for a 2020 RIBA Regional Award and was being named as Regional Finalist at the 2021 Civic Trust Awards.

(c) Daniel Hopkinson

The Oglesby Centre

We have had plenty to celebrate and plenty to look forward to next year, and we certainly look forward to continuing to work with you all next year.


Matt Dickinson is the leader of our Manchester Office. He can be contacted on and +44 (0)161 312 8071.


From 14 - 18 December 2020, we're publishing a series of blog posts written by the leader of each of our five offices across the UK. You can read all of our Year in Review blog posts here.


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