Manchester School of Art
In Brief

Manchester Metropolitan University


Construction value:

April 2013

This major extension to the Manchester School of Art, which began life in the 1830s, has provided an engaging and lively environment for students and staff to  work and study and has helped re-assert both the Art School and the University’s profile on the national stage. 

A highly visible Vertical Gallery space acts as a shop window providing a showcase for the School of Art to the University and the wider City. Behind the gallery is an interactive ‘hybrid’ studio designed to break down traditional hierarchies and foster creative collaboration between disciplines instead.

Old School New School

Sharing space and creativity at the reinvented Manchester School of Art including interviews with staff and students.

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Manchester School of Art Celebrated its 175th birthday in 2013

Manchester School of Art is one of the oldest institutions of its kind in the UK: one of its most famous students being LS Lowry. The school was established in the 19th Century to help keep the region competitive in an international market and support regional industry in a wider marketplace. This remains an important objective for the Art School, and a key part of the brief was to help it bridge the gap between education and professional life.

Design Approach

Our approach was to express a modern interpretation of the traditional warehouse typology which made Manchester such a success through its textile trade in the 19th century.

The new build Benzie Building comprises two key elements. The first is the working heart of the building comprising open studios, workshops and teaching spaces known as the Design Shed. The second is the seven-storey Vertical Gallery - the link between the existing 1960s arts tower and the new studio building. This gallery provides a showcase space for students’ creations and a shop window for the faculty itself. 

"It is a building that is proud of its product and shows the work to everyone... It's a hugely exciting arena where anything is possible and everything is relevant."
David Crow Dean of Manchester School of Art

The aim of the new building is to celebrate the commonalities of the various art and design disciplines and encourage students to work alongside each other and enjoy the crossover in an open, terraced hybrid environment, rather than working in the silos common to many art and design establishments.

With its vast glazed façade, it is also a building that proudly showcases its students’ work to all who pass by: a ‘Window on the Arts’.

Selected Awards

2014: Education Estates Award HE project of the Year: Winner

 RIBA Stirling Prize Shortlist 

2014: Schueco Excellence Award: Education: Winner

2014: RIBA National Award: Winner

2014: RIBA Award: North West Regional: Winner

2013: Concrete Society Award: Best Education Building: Winner


Project Manager:
Turner & Townsend
Structural Engineer:
M&E Engineer:
CDM Consultant:
Turner & Townsend
Cost Consultant:
Turner & Townsend
Landscape Architect:
Dan Pearson Studio
Morgan Sindall