Sunday, 8 November 2009

Manchester Society of Architect's Dinner 2009

The great and the good of Manchester’s architectural scene were gathered at the Hilton Hotel on Friday night (November 6th) for the annual Manchester Society of Architect’s Dinner. Held at the Ian Simpson-designed Hilton, on Deansgate, for the third year in a row, the evening saw 300 architects put behind them the gloom of the recession to enjoy an evening of fine food and live music, not to mention the chance to catch up with old acquaintances.

The host for the evening, current President of the MSA, Simon Green gave a speech in which he highlighted the numerous successes of Manchester’s practices including the recipients of the MSA Design Awards in April 2009 (with the winning entries shown on a big screen during the meal) and touched upon other reasons for architects in Manchester to celebrate, including the inaugural Manchester Architecture and Design Festival. Arguably the main event of the evening was a speech from RIBA President Ruth Reed, the official ‘response on behalf of the guests’. The first woman President in the 175-year history of the RIBA, Ruth Reed gave a speech that was on the whole light-hearted, commending the resilience of northern architects and how Manchester was an example of how to ‘regenerate’ a city although she did briefly touch upon on the ‘banned topic of the night’, the recession.

After dinner and the speeches had concluded the evenings live entertainment, ‘The Coolers’, got underway with even Simon Green and his illustrious guests (including Ruth Reed and Colin Pugh, Acting Head of the Manchester School of Architecture) taking to the dance floor.

On the whole the evening appeared to be enjoyed by all, a perfect balance of a formal occasion, to match the long and proud history of the MSA, mixed with the informality desired by hard-working professionals wanting to celebrate and not stand on ceremony.

The MSA Dinner 2009 was kindly sponsored by Ceram Excel.

Whitworth Art Gallery Competition Winner Announced

A winner has been announced for the competition to design an extension to the University of Manchester’s Whitworth Art Gallery - MUMA. Originally the competition had attracted over 130 entries from a number of internationally acclaimed practices. MUMA (McInnes, Usher, McKnight Architects) have been selected for the £12million extension with plans being worked up during the early part of 2010 to form part of Whitworth’s Heritage Lottery Fund bid.

Chancellor of the University of Manchester Tom Bloxham (or Urban Splash fame) chaired the judging panel and whilst calling all of the shortlisted designs “outstanding” said that “MUMA’s design shone in its thoughtful and sensitive response to a complex brief.” He went on to say that “Amongst many delightful touches the prospect of visiting a cafe in the tree canopy was particularly enjoyed, along with many further connections between gallery and surrounding park landscape. MUMA demonstrated care not only in the development of new designs but also in their consideration of improvements to the existing building.”

MUMA’s proposal includes an art garden, second entrance, a new informal cafĂ©, a landscape gallery and a study area that will allow visitors and researchers to get closer to the collections when they are not on public display.

The practices most recent work includes working on a £30 million overhaul of the Renaissance and Medieval gallerys of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Read More at BDOnline and the Architects Journal.

Image credit: Architects Journal + MUMA.