Progress on site

4 04 2014

Progress on site

No major story to report on this week, so today’s blog post will be a series of recent photos showing progress on site – so first up is a photograph taken a couple of weeks ago when we had a crane back on site for the delivery of paving slabs onto the roof of the Promenade – I loved the combination of the glazing, the white crane and the glorious blue sky!


Next we have an image of the triangular shaped piers between the windows from the Lower Promenade, facing out into the Art Garden – there will be seats between them, making it a lovely place to sit in the summer.


Inside the Lower promenade, our ISG contractors are hard at work on the new brick arches to the Collections Access Area. Wooden formers have been made to support the bricks as they are laid. Over the next few weeks, new glazed screens will be installed in each of the arches (Go to:, for a reminder of how this new facility will look and feel).


And finally, work is progressing on the lift shaft that will provide access from the south end of our Textile Gallery down to cloakroom facilities on the lower ground floor, and up to the new Grand Hall at first floor level. A considerable amount of earth has been dug out to a level below the existing foundations of the building, and these have been underpinned with concrete – visible to the right of the photo.


Big, Beautiful and Bright – comments from Whitworth staff

27 02 2014

Big, Beautiful and Bright - comments from Whitworth staff

After so much recent rain, it was lovely to be able to go on site this afternoon with a group of Whitworth staff and witness at first hand the late afternoon, winter sunshine streaming across the Art Garden and into the Promenade.

Views of the park were high on the list of staff comments, with a real pleasure expressed by the intimacy between views out to the Art Garden and into the Collections Access Area and Study Centre – ‘we can’t wait to see it when all the windows are revealed’ and the glazing protection taken down. Members of the Learning team were excited too by the connections between the inside and external spaces – the Bi-fold doors that have just been installed in the Learning studio will come into their own as families drop in for the exciting programme of activities in store.


The Cafe remains a firm favourite – so lovely to imagine sitting within the canopy of the trees sipping coffee – and don’t forget too the Cafe Terrace, which will surely become a great place for lunch on a summer’s day.

Staff were bowled over by the spaces, expressing surprise over the sheer scale of the Landscape Gallery (reminiscent to one of White Cube at Mason’s Yard, London), and generally how so much of the new build felt bigger than when just seen on the plans.

Some staff are currently ensconced in rather old and dingy temporary office accommodation, and so the visit was a good reminder of what we are all working towards, seeing ‘our new, amazing Gallery makes you realise it will be worth it in the end’ – the word ‘Magnificent’ summed it all up!

Latest bird’s eye view

18 11 2013

Latest bird's eye view

Despite Manchester living up to its reputation as a rainy city, I’ve been up on the roof of the nearby Halls of Residence on Denmark Road for today’s shot of the construction site – its almost exactly two months since the last visit (see: and the most obvious differences are the glazing of the Promenade and Cafe – the subject of the last blog post – and the completeness of the Exhibition Galleries’ roofs, which although within the area of the current new build, is actually a long-term maintenance job, funded as part of the whole project by the University of Manchester. This new roof re-uses existing slates, but incorporates new state of the art roof-lights and crucially is now well insulated as part of the overall energy saving strategy. The white blocks visible elsewhere in the photo are further insulating material ready to go onto the areas of flat roof in advance of a waterproof membrane. Some of these flat roofed areas will in turn accommodate a bio-diverse roof and photo-voltaic panels – look out for more about these sustainable developments in the future.


Those of you with eagle eyes will have spotted something missing – our lovely yellow crane, having served its purpose, was taken down at the weekend, so there is a bit more space on site for deliveries and general access.


And finally, just a quick reminder of how the building looked from this angle way back in the spring of 2013; never again will we see that ugly back view of the building, instead an elegant façade embracing Whitworth Park.

Glass – transparency and reflections

15 11 2013

Glass, transparency and reflections

A definite feel of autumn on site today, but great to see glass going into window apertures and another step forward in making our new building watertight – less like a building site and more like a fully formed building. Most of the concrete window apertures do now have window frames in them, including the immense window at the top of the Landscape Gallery, and the mass of glazing along the promenade and cafe is almost complete.


Screen Shot 2013-11-13 at 22.44.38

A huge amount of research, experimentation and testing of options went on at development stage to ensure these large glass panels produced the desired visual effects combining both transparency and reflective qualities, as well as having light filtering and solar glare protective characteristics.

Each glass panel is laminated for strength and security and constructed of several layers of glass with coated surfaces including an opaque sreen-printed layer, a semi mirrored fritted surface, and a solar control coating. As our architects MUMA stated in one of the design sketchbooks, “The intention has been to create a semi-mirror surface which conceals the building floor and roof structure, and also the roller blind zone, whilst reinforcing the reflection of trees and retaining views to the cafe and promenade within. The frit also acts as additional high level solar shading”.