A century ago, this corner of Commercial Street and Deansgate, in the area known as Knott Mill, was as close to Manchester’s industrial heartbeat as you could get. Between two canals, three railway stations, two viaducts, a gasworks and the River Medlock, was a banging, clanging, hissing area of engineering workshops, saw mills, warehouses and factories. The building forms the river wall at its base, where the Grade II listed ‘Duke’s Cut’ culverted overflow water from the River Medlock under the Bridgewater Canal, Deansgate and the Rochdale Canal, out into the River Irwell nearly half a mile away.
The efficient plan provides over 20,000 square feet of bespoke Grade ‘A’ office space and is a flexible L shape that accommodates subdivision into a range of logical floor plates. Variations in building height break the skyline, rising to mark the street corner and connect back to the main thoroughfare of Deansgate. There is a rhythm to the window pattern that jumps in scale to express double-height volumes in the interior. No-nonsense brick, stone and structural steel express depth, weight and volume. This building does the heavy lifting and its character pays homage to the wharfs, workshops and warehouses that were its historic predecessors.