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Photos by John Moss


Manchester Buildings (2)

Aytoun Library
& Computer Centre, UMIST

Metropolitan University Business School

Opposite the UMIST Aytoun Campus and dominating the corner of Aytoun
Street and Whitworth Street, this modern white powder coated aluminium
clad building comes as a refreshing change after some of the less
glamorous shoebox styles of the 1960s which so often blighted the
city centre. It stands in front of an earlier tower block which had
been designed by the City Architect, S G Besant Roberts. The Library
was was designed by the Mills Beaumont Leavey Channon Company and
completed in 1993.

Aytoun Library & Computer Centre, UMIST, Manchester

Cleverly made
to fit into an awkward irregular corner plot, the sweeping curve of
the visible facade offers a most modern and elegant Art Deco-ish style
to Whitworth Street and the original old UMIST building opposite.
Its continuous horizontal fenestration is quite reminiscent of Bauhaus
design of the mid 1920s, but interpreted in contemporary terms.

Bank House

Former Bank
of England Northern Headquarters, Portland Street

Designed by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners in 1971, this twelve storey
fortress like building amply provided that sense of unshakeable security
which the Bank of England sought to convey. Its windows are in bronze
and it is clad in black and white stonework, The whole tower block
stands atop a concrete podium, clad in smooth polished black granite,
reminiscent of a medieval castle battlement.

Bank House, former Bank of England Northern Manchester

The Bank of England
moved out several years ago, and around its outer perimeter there
is current reconstruction taking place which, unfortunately, masks
most of the lower storey of this imposing building. A new Tourist
Information Centre is being created at its base.

County Hall

Former Greater
Manchester Council Building

On the corner of Portland Street and Aytoun Street stands County Hall,
testament to one of the Great Metropolitan County authorities which
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher abolished as they grew ever more

Former County Hall, Manchester

The GMC had been
imposed earlier on the ten towns which still make up the Metropolitan
County. Designed by Fitzroy Robinson & Partners and completed
in 1974, it stands six storeys on top of a commercial podium with
shops and pubs at ground floor level. It is a very typical building
of the period with unbroken horizontal bands of windows and courses
of intervening brickwork with a separated “lid” of a roof
sitting above it like an umbrella.

Pall Mall Court

Sun Alliance
Assurance Building, King Street

Somewhat dwarfed by the former NatWest
alongside it, award winning Pall Mall Court was designed
by Lionel Brett & Pollen for the Sun Alliance Insurance Company
and completed in 1969. It actually occupies an L-shaped footprint,
wrapping round two sides of the adjacent Norwich Union Building, with
a secluded square which has recently been developed into shops and

Pall Mall Court, King Street, Manchester

This is an elegant
building which replaced the company’s older one on the same site and
was an outstanding building in its day for its bold use of square
boxed bronze framing and all darkened bronze glass walls suspended
on an internal steel and concrete skeleton – it still holds up well
over 30 years later. Parts of the service tower are clad in blue mosaic,
and beneath the building are garages.
Lionel Bret, the design company’s chief architect, was President of
the Royal Institute of British Architects in the 1960s. Not surprisingly,
the building (and Norwich Union next door) won the RIBA awards on
completion – obviously entirely coincidental.


The Museum of the Modern

City Park, Corporation Street, Cathedral Gardens, Manchester City
Centre. Website:

Urbis Museum, ManchesterUrbis Manchester

Ultra modern all glass structure on
the edge of the newly named Millennium Quarter. Billed as a museum
of modern Manchester, the world’s very first industrial city. Many
interactive displays are planned.
The building was designed by the Ian Simpson Company of Architects
and was awarded as a result of an international competition. It cost
£28 million of which £20 million was a grant from the
Millennium Commission. It’s unusual ramp-like shape makes it stand
out and dominate the entrance to Manchester city centre form Cheetham
Hill and Bury in the North. Six of its floors will house exhibitions
of an historic and futuristic nature. There is a café at ground
level and the entrance foyer will have touch screen displays and video
presentations; a restaurant is planned for the top floor offering
panoramic views across the city skyline. On its western side is the
newly created plaza, part of the so-called Cathedral Gardens complex
and will offer recreational and performance areas for the Cathedral
and Chethams School of Music which border it.


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© John Moss, Papillon Graphics AD 2013 Manchester, United Kingdom – all rights reserved.
This page last updated 1 Dec 11.