Q&A with Glenn Howells Architects

10th April 2019

Q&A with Dav Bansal
Director at Glenn Howells Architects
Glenn Howells Architects are a RIBA award winning architecture practice based in London and Birmingham.

Q: What was the initial brief for 125 Deansgate’s design and what it had to do as a building?

A: We met with the Worthington family for an initial kick off meeting to discuss the brief and understand Marcus and Russell’s ambition for this project. Inside, the building needed to provide modern, open, grade A office and retail space that had an optimum occupational density whilst being attractive to different kinds of potential occupiers.

This also meant it needed to be flexible with both smaller suites and single floors, right up to the potential to be a single HQ workplace. Ultimately, the heart of the brief lay with the Worthington family – their collaboration and engagement throughout the creative design process drove us to make this something beyond just a typical office development that would be a lasting legacy much like industrious families in the past who helped to build the rich architecture of Manchester. For Worthington Properties, this will be their proud gift to the landscape of this city.

Q: 125 Deansgate sits amongst a diverse mixture of architectural styles and scales of building – how do you see this addition to Deansgate amongst the general ongoing development of the area?

A: Deansgate has a very strong character. I call it the bloodline of Manchester with its heavy red masonry and crafted buildings, each with their own strong personality , proportion and a distinct narrative that echoes their evolution, creating a really interesting family of buildings. 125 had to complement this of course, as well as establish its own presence as a contemporary addition to the streetscape. Its important role on Deansgate is to be a good and respectful neighbour to the Grade 1 listed John Ryland Library and in urban terms, connecting the new commercial district of Spinningfields to the historic civic setting of Albert Square. We believe this is achieved through its appropriate scale and crafted workmanship of terracotta detailing. All this delivered through a modern method of prefabricated construction where traditional material meets unitised system.

© Rob Parrish

Q: H­­ow do you see the building leading or influencing the future of Deansgate and its architecture?

A: We worked closely with Manchester City Council and developers on the surrounding sites to look at the entire urban block that 125 Deansgate sits on. With the Lincoln Square regeneration plans under way, it was important that we all considered how our buildings join together and the role they play within the public realm to form a unified and successful place for Deansgate.

© Rob Parrish

This is the first modern red terracotta building to be constructed in Manchester for many decades so we hope that by respecting the past and recognising the exciting transformation of the area, 125 Deansgate will be an inspiration and catalyst to encourage other developments to celebrate the city’s history through contemporary architecture. Its role in connecting different areas of the city will also be key as Manchester evolves – we wanted it to be bold and confident in its design and purpose.

Q: For you as an architect, what is the most memorable takeaway from 125 Deansgate?

A: It has to be the opportunity to work with a creative and collaborative client that has shared our vision to deliver this special project. This is a personal journey for the Worthington family and equally an important addition to the city, and therefore we have taken great responsibility to create something that we believe will leave a positive and lasting legacy. This true passion and effort shared by our team of consultants and subcontractors to achieve the quality has been exceptional and something that I will treasure for a long time. To have a story like this behind a contemporary office building is rare and we are very proud to be involved in 125 Deansgate and all that it represents.