Great Northern Tower

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Tower helps identify the Great Northern Square
Natural Daylight maximized to enhance circulation spaces
Pre-fabricated façade creates a superior quality product
Sloping roof designed as a 5th elevation
Modern materials and details are sympathetic to historic surroundings
Restrained luxury – The entrance lobby
A modern intervention between the historic city fabric
Iconic Great Northern Tower
Towering above Manchester
The Great Northern Tower sits on 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, 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 were 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 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

2007 UK Property Awards - Winner of UK Architecture

2007 UK Property Awards - Winner of High-Rise Architecture

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


Number of dwellings




Plot ratio


Construction value


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