Our Town Hall: Manchester

Ged McNicholl
It’s an exciting honour to work on this iconic Grade 1 listed building, which continues to mean so much to Manchester’s citizens and visitors.

The aim of the Our Town Hall project is to secure a vital part of Manchester’s remarkable legacy for generations to come, while restoring and increasing public access to the building’s many heritage features and treasures.

While the building, which turned 140 years old this year, has been maintained and remains structurally sound, many of its elements are now reaching the end of their natural lifespan. The building will be repaired, restored and brought up to modern access, safety and energy efficiency standards, with the project spanning a seven-year period.

Faithful+Gould became involved in 2015 with a detailed condition survey that provided a full review of the Town Hall building’s condition, strengths and weaknesses. Our extensive year-long survey and stakeholder engagement exercise enabled robust data collection, including an operational strategy review and space utilisation studies.

The second year of our appointment to develop the project brief focused on future usage, aspirational planning, and future-proofing…what could the building and Albert Square be used for in seven years’ time? In 50 years? Inevitably, some elements of future usage are unknown, as are future local authority budgets and business models. Flexibility was therefore key to the ideas and plans that led to the development of the project brief.

Manchester City Council subsequently appointed us to review its estate, deploying a digital approach to asset information modelling, and including full measured building surveys. The resulting building condition data led to creation of a robust benchmark which supports the Council’s capital investment planning, works programming and maintenance management.

We are now providing cost management services on the Our Town Hall project as it goes forward. For our team, one of the most important factors is the contribution we can make to the project’s social value. We have committed to Manchester City Council’s 28 social value commitments, including taking on an apprentice every two years for the duration of the project.

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