Great Northern Tower

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Tower helps identify the Great Northern Square
The building has a direct architectural relationship to three Listed Buildings and its geometric form was designed to reflect the robust, simple forms of its historically important neighbours
Natural Daylight maximized to enhance circulation spaces
A fully glazed linear gallery running the full length of the building creates a dramatic entrance to each of the three separate vertical cores
Pre-fabricated façade creates a superior quality product
With the early and effective involvement of suppliers and manufacturers, the design of the facade was optimised to support a unitised pre-fabricated curtain wall system
Sloping roof designed as a 5th elevation
The majority of the apartments at Great Northern Tower feature glass-fronted balconies and full-height glazing whilst maximising the spectacular views across the cityscape
Modern materials and details are sympathetic to historic surroundings
The details and palette of materials are selected to integrate modern construction techniques with reference to the historical industrial aesthetic that is prevalent in the Listed buildings
Restrained Luxury – The Entrance Lobby
The scheme features a glazed double-height foyer, which has been specially created to provide an atmosphere reminiscent of the most luxurious and extravagant hotels in the world
A modern intervention between the historic city fabric
The building’s contemporary geometries and palette of materials are designed to reflect and relate to the City’s industrial past, while re-stitching the old urban fabric
The Great Northern Tower is a long, narrow site in the centre of Manchester between Manchester International Convention Centre and the listed Great Northern Warehouse. Our design comprises 257 private apartments as part of a mixed-use development, rising to 78m on twenty-seven floors, including car park levels.

The Great Northern Tower is primarily a residential high-rise development with retail units and restaurants at ground level. Working for developers Nicholson Estates and subsequently George Wimpey City Ltd, we created an efficient and modern scheme that complements its surroundings and completes the urban regeneration of this part of Manchester.

Following an in-depth analysis of the city’s urban grain and its design aspirations, researched from detailed policy documents, we developed a concept that delivered a mixed-use development, with 73 apartments in the tower, a further 184 units in the lower section of the building and prime commercial uses facing out onto new public open spaces.

The tower, a tall, slender and elegant landmark, is 17 metres wide, 25 storeys tall and fully glazed. Its prominent location on the corner of Watson and Windmill Streets, directly addressing the open spaces in front of the MICC, the GMEX and the new Great Northern Square, which underscores its pivotal role in completing the masterplan for this part of the City, while delivering highly sought-after residential accommodation.

The bold form of the building and the selection of materials are designed to relate to Manchester's built history, especially its industrial architecture. Its contemporary geometries re-stitch the old urban fabric, while creating new and exciting contextual forms.

A bold sloping metal roof contributes to its distinctive profile, incorporating south-facing cascading roof terraces. It directly faces the Grade II listed Great Northern Warehouse across Watson Street, so cladding materials (terracotta, metal panel rainscreen and full height glazing) were specified to complement the warehouse and achieve a coherent appearance for the site. Deeply recessed windows and terraces echo the warehouse, while balconies and brise-soleil provide dramatic modulation of light and shade on the facades.

Residents will access their accommodation via the main foyer - a completely transparent space to allow a view through the building to the city beyond.

Commercial spaces for restaurants, bars and shops are provided at ground and mezzanine level along the length of the site, clad in fully transparent glazing to emphasise the public nature of these spaces and bring life and activity to the street.

To make best use of the space and retain the aesthetic appeal of our landscape design, 98 car parking spaces are provided underground.


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Living next to a Listed building
Great Northern Tower
1 Watson Street
Manchester, M3 4EE


Taylor Wimpey


2007 Building Awards - Shortlisted for Major Housing Project of the Year

2001 RIBA National Housing Design Awards - Runner-Up


RIBA Stages

Proposed use

Site history

The site was cleared of residential buildings in 1866 for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway, completed in 1875. Railway activity ceased in 1967, since which time the site was used as a car park.

Site area


Gross internal area




Plot ratio


Construction value


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