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Report - - The Mercure, Manchester - February 2013 | High Stuff | 28DaysLater.co.uk
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Report - The Mercure, Manchester - February 2013

tweek

meek
Regular User
#1
The Mercure, Manchester - February 2013

Visited with Anon and NickUK

The Mercure is a 56m tall hotel offering decent views over Piccadilly Gardens, the main node and meeting place in the city. I've never been up here before but have always wanted to, so when Anon said he'd managed it recently, I jumped on his offer to go back.

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The Mercure was previously known as the Ramada, and even before that, the Jarvis. But for the purpose of clarity I shall refer to it by its original construction name throughout this report - The Piccadilly Hotel. Just like many of our post-war modernist buildings it has led a troubled and difficult history, and even after continued and extensive redevelopment, it's still largely considered an eyesore by citizens of Manchester. When finished, the hotel completed a block of three buildings built between 1959 and 1965 and designed by Covell, Matthews and Partners that were known collectively as The Piccadilly Plaza.

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To talk about the Hotel, you have to talk about the Plaza as a whole...

The Piccadilly Plaza

The Piccadilly Plaza complex was one of the most visible pieces of commerical, private development in the city.centre when it was built. They were exceptionally modern, brutalist slabs and were a vast contrast to the nineteenth century warehouses they followed that were destroyed in the war.

Their replacement - the three buildings of Sunley Tower, Bernard House and The Piccadilly Hotel - had no visual relationship to each other but all sat on top of a two-storey shopping block that includes rooftop parking.

This design took no account whatsoever of the grain of the area. The whole block forms a barrier across the city in a way that no other set of buildings do - it completely disconnects Faulkner, George and Back George Street's from connecting with Piccadilly Gardens. Serving to cut off the link between China Town and Piccadilly Gardens.

The construction phasing started from Mosley Street and continued towards Portland Street. So Bernard House came first during 1960-62. Whilst Bernard House was being constructed, the designs for Sunley Tower and the Piccadilly Hotel and shops beneath came about. The original developer/contractor was Bernard Sunley and the towers were named accordingly.

When first built, the Plaza was at the heart of Manchester's main shopping area, but after a while Piccadilly had become a less fashionable part of the city centre to shop. Events such as the closure of the Woolworth's store after the tragic fire in 1979, and the construction nearby of the Arndale Shopping Centre, added to the trend of shopping activity moving away. The Plaza had begun to look tired and needed a serious condition appraisal.

The Plaza had gone into receivership in 1991 and some six years passed without a buyer.

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By the late 90's, Bernard House had just a single tenant remaining in it's offices, and was considered impossible to let. The roof was a timber structure of a '60's fashion hyperbolic paraboloid shape and a prominent feature of the city skyline. However, it leaked and was clearly reaching the end of its useful life. It was demolished over 3 months at the beginning of 2001, just in time for the Commonwealth Games the following year. The replacement is a largely unremarkable building that badly (and somewhat mockingly) attempts to copy the distinctive roof of the Bernard House.

Bruntwood purchased Piccadilly Plaza for £65 million in 2004. In 2005, the Plaza underwent large-scale remodelling with recladding of the tower and cleaning of concrete façades. Bruntwood created a new central ground floor entrance that tried to establish a pedestrian link back to Chinatown, as well as repainting and fitting an atrium to the sides of Sunley Tower (renamed City Tower). An advertising screen was also erected atop the two-storey base, showing full motion video clips to passers by in the gardens. The Plaza is now rebranded as the Piccadilly Exchange.

Finally in 2008, a renovation and refurbishment of the Piccadilly Hotel was completed.

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tweek
:Not Worthy

 

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A-Plevin

28DL Full Member
28DL Full Member
#6
What camera did you shoot these photos on? I'm guessing a film camera on a couple of them because I can see the little lines and dust marks. Great report :thumb
 

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