At only 17 metres wide and rising to 78 metres tall, the Great Northern Tower was one of the first contemporary additions to Manchester’s rapidly changing skyline, and marked a renaissance for people choosing to live in the city centre.
True inner city living
Nestled between Manchester’s International Convention Centre and the Grade II listed Great Northern Warehouse, the Great Northern Tower, known as the ‘slot site’, maximised its tight, narrow site to deliver 257 new homes. Together with the Beetham Tower, the building provided a catalyst for future inner city residential development on similar brownfield sites, with the offering of flexible living and the lifestyle benefits of easy access to Manchester’s transport network and local shops, offices, bars and restaurants.
The old and the new
The simple sculptural qualities and strong forms of the surrounding industrial buildings are reflected in the contemporary geometries of the Great Northern Tower, with terracotta, metal panel rainscreen and full-height glazing used to complement the Grade II listed Great Northern Warehouse opposite. Deeply recessed windows and terraces echo the warehouse, while balconies and brise-soleil provide dramatic modulation of light and shade on the façades.
Reaching new heights
The development was designed to be bold, yet elegant to mark its status as the gateway to the eastern entrance of the Great Northern Square. The glazed building steps back as it rises and links to a lower building by its long, sloping roof, punctuated by transparent stair cores and south-facing roof terraces.
“Great Northern Tower is a landmark scheme, the flagship in the George Wimpey City portfolio. The design quality is superb and the execution is a testament to the team’s ability to produce an outstanding building in tightly packed but sensitive urban environments. It is a fantastic building and we are very proud of its presence in Manchester” Richard Cook / Former Director at George Wimpey
Ground floor retail and leisure uses face outwards to complete the Great Northern Square, whilst the triple-height class-clad entrance allows the public spaces on either side to visually ‘flow’ through the building to tie it into its surroundings.
At the time it was the last element of the city’s urban design masterplan. With Manchester undergoing significant regeneration again, the Great Northern Tower now forms the backdrop for new development in the city.