Manchester’s iconic Express Building has been refurbished by architect Ben Adams Architects. A striking example of Art Deco, this much-loved building was originally built specifically for the Express newspaper in 1939. Its futuristic design, with rounded corners and a simple black glass curtain wall, reflected the modern mechanical industry of the newspaper presses it housed.
Subject to unsympathetic alterations and neglect over the years, Ben Adams Architects have restored the Grade II* listed building to its former glory, celebrating its original design ambitions whilst bringing a cool contemporary co-working concept to the gateway of Manchester’s thriving and creative Northern Quarter.
BAA’s approach has been to inject life and character back into the lower levels of the building, peeling back the edge of the slab from the façade to bring in natural light and open up internal views at street level. New co-working areas, and a double height reception with a 1930’s inspired café and lounge, are all visible from the street.
Large internal volumes have been created to recall the spatial qualities of the original hall that once housed the giant printing presses. Wherever possible original materials have been retained and celebrated, including original quarry tiling in the primary stair. The distinctive blue colour used for interiors was found on traces of original 1930s paint in the building’s common areas, and used to disguises splashes and ink spills form the printing presses.
Blackened metal is used throughout with touches of walnut and textiles for warmth.Throughout the building, dropped ceilings and internal partitions reveal the beauty and authenticity of the original concrete structure with its great textured concrete columns and cruciform column heads supporting clear internal spans.
Meticulously laid out exposed services display the honest workings of the building and meet contemporary demands for environmental performance. A new rooftop terrace wraps around the building offering panoramic views of the city, and contributing to the presence of a newly enhanced and highly identifiable building. “The Express Building gave us the chance to reinvent an icon.
Way ahead of its time when it opened in 1939, the Express Building had become tired, unloved and it was in need of a big lift to take its place in the renewal of the Ancoats and Northern Quarter. Manchester is full of proud, iconic buildings from an earlier period of industry and trade and the Express Building set the tone for the modern era with its dramatic form and confident style. We have helped to bring this one back to life.” Ben Adams, Founding Director, Ben Adams Architects
“Our intention is to raise the bar in Manchester; combining efficient, super connected workspace, with unrivalled occupier amenities in one of the most dynamic areas of the city centre.” James Bostock, Building Consultancy, OBI Property. “It will be aimed at occupiers from a wide range of sectors, including those who are part of the thriving digital and tech scene.” Richard Lace, Transactions and Asset Management, OBI Property. Source and photos Courtesy of Ben Adams architect.