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The CAMPUS buildings

In architecture, uncategorized on June 25, 2012 at 6:50 pm
  1. CHANDOS HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962-4

Designed for 160 students with study beds and common room with kitchen on each floor, this 15 floor hall of residence was a prototype for student living. The top floor housed a warden’s residence, roof terrace and a communal room for parties…how modern!

  1. RENOLD BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1962

Strikingly beautiful with its distinctive concertina wall and the 1968 Victor Pasmore mural Metamorphosis running the length of the lower level of the grand duplex entrance, a 6 storey tower on 2 storey base, cleverly incorporating mixed lecture theatres including one for 500, 2 for 300, 6 for 140, and 12 smaller ones. The potential crush of so many students leaving and entering for hourly lectures ameliorated by multi entrances, vast staircase and double height hallway.

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  1. BARNES WALLIS BUILDING/WRIGHT ROBINSON HALL, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD 1963-6

Podium with 15 floor tower of residence behind, unusual in that the two parts of the building have different names and different uses, despite the fact that the building is a single structure, purpose built by a single architect – the union is on free standing columns to give a fluted effect like the Renold building.

Barnes Wallis section housed the main campus refectory (closed June 2009), and until 2004 was also home to UMIST Students’ Association.

The naming of internal parts of the building was for many years a good indicator of the current political balance of the UMIST Student Union – the Large Assembly Hall was at times called the Lenin Assembly Hall. Conversely, the Small Assembly Hall was at other times named the Sharansky Assembly Hall, after Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky.

The Renold Building, and the Barnes Wallis Building, originally faced each other across a bowling green, which later became a landscaped garden. For this reason a bar in the Renold Building was originally named the Bowling Green Tavern.

  1. STAFF HOUSE, THOMAS WORTHINGTON, 1960, EXTENDED 1968 slotted in behind former retained mill buildings

Not part of the Gibbon masterplan but constructed earlier by Hubert Worthington of the Manchester firm Thomas Worthington. Suitably sober for UMIST’s chief bigwigs and boffinhood.

  1. CHEMICAL ENGINEERING PILOT PLANT, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1966

Another bespoke and ingenious design, with its innovative use of brick and glass. The open plan glass half for students to erect their own large scale experimental rigs. Exposed cooling pipes on the roof adds to its credentials as a precursor to later international ‘Pop’ architecture, such as Paris’ Pompidou centre – how cool!

  1. HOLLOWAY WALL

A bit of an MMS obsession – 1968 buffer wonder-wall, sculpture and engineering construction! Prefabricated textured panels slotted into concrete columns and an experimental collaboration between the architect Fairhurst and artist Holloway who later worked together on stained glass at Manchester Cathedral.

  1. MATHEMATICS & SOCIAL SCIENCES, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1966-8.

The highest building on Campus, a 15 storey tower, its twin circulation towers extending above the main roof levels, creating an even taller impression, is a powerful landmark sweeping along the Mancunian Way. It is flanked by a windowless lecture block also in UMIST’S trademark white reinforced concrete. A Brutalist delight.

The building was used largely for staff offices, with some teaching rooms. The 10th to 14th floors (called floors M-Q) accommodated the Department of Mathematics.

  1. FERRANTI BUILDING, W A GIBBON OF CRUICKSHANK & SEWARD, 1968

Low reinforced concrete box for electrical engineering/ High Voltage Laboratories, acoustically designed to shut out traffic from the motorway yet low enough to allow sunlight to the lawns beyond. Stark yet elegant.

  1. PARISER BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1963

Classical, reserved modernism in brick and copper cladding, typical of the firm’s stoical style, mirrored in the Victoria University’s own post-war Brunswick St science campus. The low 3 storey building attached to the east is the Hydraulics Lab.

  1. FARADAY BUILDING, H M FAIRHURST OF HARRY S FAIRHURST & SON, 1967

This high slab and 4 storey block ingeniously used the existing topography, and housed its library on the bridge running across Sackville St – the block to the east for undergrads, west for graduates. The abstract patterning adorning the tower walls was designed by Anthony Holloway, whilst in the coffered arcaded entrance nestles the gloriously textured mosaic, the Alchemist’s Elements, by Hans Tisdall, 1967

  1. GEORGE BEGG, FAIRHURSTS, 1974.

For the mechanical engineering department and comprising huge basement labs, upper drawing offices and lecture rooms. To the north was the Paper Science Lab on the front of the road.

  1. The multi-storey car park with the legendary UMIST watering hole the Swinging Sporran, gone but not forgotten –  now the Retro Bar.

 KEY TO INTERESTING SPOTS –

The Godlee Observatory, home to the Manchester Astrological Society, sits in the dome of the original Municipal School of Technology

Vimto Monument, 1992

Technology Arch, 1989

Archimedes, 1990

Generation of Possibilities, 1999

The Bowling Green – the former Campus bowling green between the Renold and Barnes Wallis Buildings is now a landscaped garden

Mural: Metamorphosis,1968

Mechanics Institute Sundial, Renold Building, 1974, replica of the presented to UMIST by Lord Bowden the principal to mark the 150th anniversary of the Institute.

Combustion, 1994, (adjacent Renold Building) by Marshall Hall

The insulator family, 1987

The Alchemist’s Elements, 1967

Hollaway Sculptural Wall, 1968

Concrete Society Award, 1968

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The Colossi of UMIST…..

In ideas, science, society, uncategorized on June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

John Henry Reynolds (February 8, 1842 – July 17, 1927) is a crucial figure in the development of the institution that would eventually become UMIST. And the story is typical of the radical, self made Manchester Man era to boot!

Born in Salford the eldest son of a bootmaker, he attended the Cross Street Unitarian Chapel and Manchester Grammar School before apprenticing to his father at twelve years of age. He also assisted at the Sunday School at Cross Street where he met William Fairbairn (engineer, shipbuilder and President of the Manchester Lit & Phil society) and William Gaskell (minister, educationalist and key figure in the formation of the Mechanics Institute).

By the 1870s, the Manchester Mechanics’ Institute was in decline. Despite its original ambitious mission to bring technical expertise to working men, its core activities had shrunk to the provision of elementary education in the face of new competition from the state-funded schools being established by the Elementary Education Act 1870. In 1879, Reynolds was appointed Secretary to the Institute and set about reasserting its lead – by all accounts a persuasive advocate, he grasped the city’s appetite for more effective vocational education and led its reinvention as the Manchester Technical School in 1882. Before long he had further secured the college’s future by adopting the London Institute’s new City and Guilds system and exams, recapturing the lead that was being threatened by strong establishments and schools starting to flourish across Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

A grant from the Whitworth Institute enabled him to realise his ambitions for a state-of-the-art institution with the construction of the buildings on Sackville Street, opened in 1902 by Arthur Balfour. The institution was renamed as the Municipal School of Technology and Reynolds became its principal and director for higher education of Manchester.

In 1904, the newly-autonomous Victoria University of Manchester recognised the status of many of the courses that Reynolds had developed by establishing a faculty of technology at the Institute. Reynolds became dean of the faculty, ensuring that the Institute’s newly appointed professors were recognised by the university.

And, consistent with Reynolds’ radical sympathies and formative years, the bulk of the Institute’s work remained devoted to vocational, rather than academic, education.

Sir Charles Garonne Renold (29 October 1883 – 7 September 1967) was Vice President of the Manchester College of Science and Technology and chairman of the planning and development committee. Born in Altrincham, he was the son of Hans Renold, a Swiss born engineer and businessman who became chairman of the family business Renold Chains and Gears in Manchester.

A respected expert in industrial administration, he was knighted in 1948 for services to the cause of good management and the development of humane and progressive ideals in industry.

The brand new Renold Building was fittingly named in his honour, and in fact he laid the foundation stone himself on June 24, 1960…

Bertram Vivian Bowden (18 January 1910 – 28 July 1989) was a noted scientist in his own right but it’s his tireless efforts as an educationist and with the development of UMIST as a successful independent university that he is most known.

Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, he graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge with a Ph.D. in nuclear physics in 1931 and in 1940 he was conscripted to the Telecommunications Research Establishment to work on radar and later from 1943 at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, establishing himself as an effective administrator. The post war period however saw him take up a variety of jobs, including selling early computers manufactured by Ferranti – an experience that made him understand the enormous impact that new technology was about to make.

In 1953, Bowden became principal of what was then still the Manchester College of Science and Technology, but as our previous postings have shown, the post-war expansion in university education, coupled with his ambitions for the institution soon brought about the college’s transformation into UMIST.

In 1964, he was created a life peer as Baron Bowden of Chesterfield and appointed Minister for Education and Science, an appointment which didn’t really suit him – by 1965 he had returned to UMIST, where he remained until his retirement in 1976.

 

Roy Chadwick (30 April 1893 – 23 August 1947) became the Chief Designer for the Avro Company, responsible for practically all of their aeroplane designs, and is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s greatest aircraft designers. And it all started at the Tech…!

After attending a church school in Urmston, young Chadwick studied at night school from 1907 – 1911 at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, whilst working as a draughtsman in Trafford Park.

Diploma under his belt, he so impressed Alliott Verdon-Roe that he became his personal assistant and swiftly rose to be the firm’s chief draughtsman at A.V.Roe and Company (AVRO) in Manchester. Under the direction of AV Roe, Chadwick drafted the AVRO D, a two seated tractor biplane, the AVRO E, which was converted to a floatplane and in 1912, the AVRO F, the world’s first monoplane and cabin machine.

He is famous in particular for designing the Lancaster bomber, its follow-up the Lincoln and preliminary designs of the Vulcan V bomber. He also converted the Lincoln into the much-used Shackleton, and his Avro Yorks carried one third of the entire British tonnage during the Berlin Airlift!

In 1943 Chadwick was awarded the CBE for his role in the Dambusters raid, the production of the Lancaster and the special modifications which allowed Upkeep to be delivered to Germany. He was also made a honorary Master of Science at Manchester University in 1944.

His final involvement with Avro was overseeing the initial designs of the Vulcan from 1946. He died tragically on 23 August 1947 during a crash on take-off of a test flight of his latest prototype Avro Tudor.

Is the Past a foreign country? a personal reflection….

In background, ideas, society, uncategorized on June 14, 2012 at 12:15 pm

We are delighted to include a Guest Post by Modernist magazine regular and Chair of the C20 Society North West Group, Aidan Turner – Bishop, a personal reflection of what UMIST means to him….

Is the Past a foreign country? Perhaps it’s more like Danzig/Gdansk: the original landmarks are still there but their context, and often the original people, have changed or gone. We see, sure, but do we get it? As I, a fifties child, get older I feel this increasingly. Did we then really enjoy vintage cup cakes, mismatched china crockery and hatless, ungirdled, red lipsticked ladies? What about the damp, cold and smell of gas and soot? The darned shabby clothes and food rationing?

UMIST campus makes me feel like that. We see a peaceful oasis of smart modernist buildings and mature landscaping set away from the busy city centre. But we don’t feel its original context: striking modern architecture next to endless small sooty workshops, corner pubs, slum housing stretching all the way fromLondon Road railway station to theStockport boundary. Many poor people with bad haircuts, shabby frocks, faded headscarves, and poor teeth. Red Corporation trolleybuses. Steam and soot from jangling goods trains on the viaduct. Yellow smog.

UMIST was revolutionary. It was Change: electric –nuclear electric – clean and plentiful, promising so much. It evokes the promise of the post-war “white heat of technology” era: electronics, nuclear engineering, chemicals, artificial textiles, aeronautics and computing. Hope after so much austerity. New buildings on cleared rubbled bomb sites. UMIST was led then by Lord Bowden appointed in 1955. He made UMIST – as it was to become – an international centre of high technology. Have a look at his biography  at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B._V._Bowden,_Baron_Bowden and his entry in the Oxford DNB.

He used to appear on the wireless programme “Any questions” [BBC Home Service, chaired by Freddie Grisewood] or on jolly serious, two-pipe, programmes on Granada TV, probably interviewed by a young Brian Redhead: authoritative, calm, brainy, modern. He knew where we were going. He was the arch-boffin in a time when delta-winged Vulcan bombers were being tested at Woodford (I lay on my back in a field to get a good view of one). When Ferranti’s was a large employer and Metro-Vicks made electrical equipment for the USSR or Southern Rhodesia. Vickers were selling their successful Viscount and Vanguard aeroplanes across the world. Britain even had a space programme then with intercontinental Blue Streak rockets being tested at Spadeadam in Cumberland. Dan Dare flew his personal spaceship ‘Anastasia’ in Eagle.

Lord Robens, Chairman of the National Coal Board, argued in his no-nonsense Yorkshiregrowl, that our resources of coal –although plentiful and growing – should be used to produce oil and plastics. Those were the days when chairmen of nationalised industries, and their counterparts the great trade union secretaries, were satraps in the land. Courtaulds led the world in rayon production. Leyland lorries and buses were sold widely throughout the Commonwealth and Empire and South America. I still remember being shown one of the newly imported Xerox ‘photocopiers’ at Warwickshire County Library service. It was all heady stuff, eh?

When Eddy Rhead and I visited the staff room at UMIST it reeked of that atmosphere: Danish-style 1960s wooden armchairs, pipe-smoked fabrics, shabby tweed jackets, chaps reading the Manchester Guardian and muttering about NationalService inMalaya, CND wallahs in duffle-coats, and undergrads in striped scarves. “Fancy a wad and a jar, old man?” Perhaps there were a very few lady boffins on campus: white coated hearty types, mostly unmarried, of course. They worked in fearfully modern architecture, generously funded by the UGC. Did you know that in 1948 there were 25,000 students in all British universities, fewer than in one modern ‘uni’ today? UMIST was elite and very special.  It still is.

Aidan Turner-Bishop, Chair of the C20 Society North West Group, www.c20society.org.

Campus Day

In news, uncategorized on June 13, 2012 at 5:07 pm

CAMPUS –  a celebration of the UMIST Campus

As part of RIBA lovearchitecture festival 2012 & Cornerhouse MicroCommissions, the Manchester Modernist Society invite you to a celebration of the 1960s campus at UMIST.

Sunday June 24th

Join us for cake, the conferring of Degrees from the Modernist University of Mancheser and a tour around the campus during which the Modernist Society will declare the campus to be a 20th Century Conservation Area.

2pm – RECEPTION AND PICNIC LAUNCH

2.30pm – AN INTRODUCTION TO UMIST

3PM – CEREMONY/CONFERING OF DEGREES

3.30 – DECLARATION  OF CONSERVATION AREA / WALKING TOUR OF CAMPUS GROUNDS

4.30pm – CELEBRATION ENDS WITH A GRAND VIEW & PHOTO OPPORTUNITY FROM THE CAR PARK ROOF FOLLOWED BY A WELCOME RETREAT TO THE RETRO BAR

All attendees will receive a specially commissioned map of Campus designed by Lisa Barlow & Nick Yates

Special thanks also go to Jonathan Hitchen & Sue Platt of Manchester School of Art, Graphic Design.

Places are limited – reserve your ticket here

https://umistcampus.wordpress.com/

http://www.manchestermodernistsociety.org/

http://lovearchitecture.org/

http://www.microcommissions.org/

some gentle science for the weekend – boffins, science dudes & some nice pipes….

In background, ideas, science, uncategorized on June 1, 2012 at 11:46 am

a mooch around Campus gets you up close and personal to plaques, signs, memorials and portraits of a plethora of intriguing boffins, scientists and their inventions.

so here are a few clues to whet your appetite for next weeks Science Stories Section….

a UMIST for everyone

In architecture, background, ideas, society, the buildings, uncategorized on May 28, 2012 at 8:35 am

Talking of public realm and the benefits of campus facilities in the heart of the city, a quick delve into the City Library’s Manchester Room reveals a fascinating glimpse into the wider aims and ambitions behind the planning of the proposed new educational precinct in 1963.

Manchester and Its Regions, A Survey prepared for The British Association, MUP, 1962, includes a chapter entitled The University of the Future written by Vincent Knowles, Registrar of Manchester University from 1952-79.

Knowles was the doyen of all the British universities’ registrars and it was an open secret that the network his former staff had established throughout university administration in the country was known to other registrars as the Manchester Mafia and that Knowles was affectionately known as the Godfather. (A History of the University of Manchester, 1973–1990 English Historical Review (2004) 119(482): 759-761).

In this chapter Knowles talks about the role of universities generally for a ‘new era’. Closer to home he outlines the humble beginnings of the universities, praises all the achievements gained so far for the benefit of the city, its students and its citizens alike, whilst warning against complacency, advocating expansion and improvement as urgent projects in the aftermath of the Second World War.

Knowles sets out the vision for Manchester as a university town par excellence, illustrating the extent to which an educational campus was key to the larger post war reconstruction of the city. The 1945 plan provided the structure for zoning much of central south Manchester along the ribbon of existing institutions and for clearing large acreage from Brunswick to Fallowfield to make an academic campus – 60 acres either side of Oxford Rd, a new area of 18 acres on the west side of Oxford Rd running up to Whitworth Park for the development of halls of residence, and 24 acres for more halls in Fallowfield – ‘town and gown, he says, being drawn together in the interests of both’.

On the responsibility of Parliament and local government to plan and legislate for the future of higher education, he notes, ‘the university of the past was built by visionary men of wealth but those of the future is one where government and parliament now realise, albeit belatedly, that if our precious heritage is to survive it must be supported in far greater measure by the state and thus be able to expand its contribution to the life of the nation’

Interestingly the plan includes provision of courts, lawns and trees, and whilst he acknowledges that more land had since been given over to construction, he hoped that the ideal might be adhered to in the future, ‘as it would benefit not only the life of the university itself but the whole of Manchester, since the enjoyment of campus would not be limited to those residing or working on it’.

Meanwhile for UMIST he predicted that nationally there would be an increased need for more and highly trained technologists, hence the expansion of its campus – ‘the scheme provides for a number of tall buildings arranged to form courts or quads laid out with lawns and trees ad it has been necessary to eliminate 2 loops in the river Medlock by culverts, which is now almost complete. Major buildings completed include the conversion of a former cotton mill for the Dept of Chemical Engineering, a new staff house and lecture room block with large buildings to house the civil engineering division due to be ready in 1963. Further buildings include fibre technology, chemistry, a refectory and student and residential tower. By 1964-5 the scheme will be complete and there will be a need to move across to the area between Sackville St and Upper Brook Street already earmarked for more development.’

This ambition, with its lawns, courts, trees and airy quadrangles, its sports halls,  public galleries and museums, would create  a new public landscape where investment into research and development for the new technological revolution could result in enjoyment and benefits for all. A CAMPUS for everyone…

UMIST’s long lost swimming pool

In uncategorized on May 25, 2012 at 5:54 pm

High up in the roof space of the Sackville St main building extension (Bradshaw Gass & Hope, designed 1927, completed 1957) is the intriguing K floor.

When we snook in last week it was set up as an exam room but evidence of its former life as an old fashioned Sports Hall is easy to spot.

However it seems that originally a swimming pool was planned for the top floor but the idea was dropped amidst worries that the weight of water might cause substantial structural issues.

Shame….a deco-esque rooftop swimming pool would be just the ticket right now for a cooling dip as the city enjoys a much needed heatwave……

Well I Never…???

In uncategorized on May 24, 2012 at 6:30 pm

Interesting snippets for your delight….

  • the Renold Building and the Barnes Wallis Building originally faced each other across a bowling green and for a long time the Renold’s Rock Bar/café was named the Bowling Green in its honour. Disappointingly it is now a landscaped garden….
  • Manchester Moon Dust – lunar soil gathered from the Sea Of Tranqullity by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin during the Apollo landing in 1969 made its way to several universities worldwide for study via NASA,  including Manchester and UMIST. The UK received 16 samples, a portion of which came to Manchester via Jack Zussman, Chair of Geology, and John Geake at UMIST physics dept who collaborated with scientists in Hull and Paris on 20g of fine dust to determine the surface properties and radiation history of the moon.

** a little of this moon dust also went to the Museum for display in the ‘public interest’ – and it proved to be one of its most successful exhibitions to date – over 5 days more than 24,000 visitors queued down the street to view what many reported to the Manchester Evening News looked just like cigarette ash!

  • UMIST students were a distinct group with their own ways and traditions – think Neil out of The Young Ones – and most nights out revolved around the Barnes Wallis Students Union. However there was always the nearby Swinging Sporran (now the Retro Bar) for after hours drinking, rocking out and talking physics. Originally a bikers/rock pub and club, UMIST science bods would go there to swing their long hair and flairs to concept albums by the likes of YES and Genesis… Later on it spawned a new generation of techno and house nights, including early sets by the Dust Brothers before they conquered the world as The Chemical Brothers.
  • Another prominent feature of the student calendar was the Bogle Stroll, a 55-mile long sponsored walk for charity held annually during Rag Week. Thousands of students left Manchester Rag headquarters at UMIST campus just before midnight and walked all night through Salford and back. In the days before mobile phones the only official communication link for the entire event was a single BT Radiophone installed the Bogle Warlord’s (the Chief Steward’s) car. So, unofficially, Radio Rag was the link between the event organisers and the walkers.

** It would broadcast all night and the organisers instructed walkers to carry portable radios and tune in. There is a lovely website here reminiscing about the logistics of the stroll and the radio broadcast, complete with one or two surviving clips from back in the day. Well worth a quick read….

  • Vimto, Manchester’s answer to Ribena, the original ‘Vim Tonic for health and temperance’, was formulated in a shed on Granby Row in 1908. An elaborate and suitably jolly public sculpture now marks the spot.
  • The beautiful dome in Sackville Main Building houses the Godlee Observatory, home to the Manchester Astrological Society, complete with telescopes in the actual tower, octagonal meeting rooms beneath, and society archives. It was bequeathed to the university in 1903 by Francis Godlee, Quaker, lawyer and all round Good Egg.

Got any gorgeous stories to share? why not pop them on here for our mutual delectation……the more the merrier!

so what’s all the fuss about UMIST then…??

In uncategorized on May 23, 2012 at 7:45 pm

so just why are we banging on about UMIST as a whole rather than only a few specific buildings to be recognised as being of particular architectural merit? here’s why in a nutshell…..

  • The campus is important as a symbol of the city’s leading role in C20 technology: electrical and chemical engineering; advanced textile manufacturing; nuclear engineering; and so on. It’s rather like the Ancoats area was to early cotton manufacturing in the 1820s but 80 or 90 years later, reinforced in the post-1945 years when Britain was still a world-leading scientific and engineering country.
  •  The UMIST campus is almost unique as a contained inner-city example of the post-war expansion of British Universities.
  • The handling of the composition of the buildings in the masterplan is a subtle and sophisticated piece of urban design. The effortlessness with which one may move from the Sackville Street building to the Ferranti building belies the complexity of planning and building on a contaminated site with a river and a railway viaduct running through it!
  • These are the best buildings of WA Gibbon (of Cruikshank & Seward), an extremely talented architect and reflect his love of concrete and his awards and travels sponsored by the concrete society including a visit to Brazil to meet Oscar Niemeyer.
  • The exposed plant equipment on the roof of the Chemical Engineering Pilot plant pre-dates the Pompidou in Paris by four years!
  • There are unique works of art by Victor Pasmore, Anthony Hollaway and Hans Tidsall embedded in the fabric of the site and the buildings.
  • The open space is as valuable to the city and the composition as the built elements. There are few open green spaces in Manchester city centre especially since Piccadilly Gardens were reconstructed.
  • There are no C20 conservation areas in Manchester and this site has magnificent buildings and a unique social and educational story to tell….

**Thanks to Richard Brook, Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture for his expertise, enthusiasm & erudite summary of UMIST’s unique landscape.

The Construction of a thoroughly Modern Campus

In uncategorized on May 11, 2012 at 8:12 pm

UMIST was the vanguard of Britain’s post-war “white heat of technology” era: electronics, nuclear engineering, chemicals, artificial textiles, aeronautics and computing. A gleaming white campus of iconic architecture, artworks and sculptural experiments, reflecting its social, cultural and scientific significance for the development of twentieth century Manchester – a narrative every bit as important to Manchester as that of the industrial revolution.

Lord Bowden’s ambitions, the aspirations of the new welfare state and the city’s own Educational Plan eventually combined to create its unique landscape given the seal of approval in  the Manchester Pevsner Guide –

‘The UMIST campus has the most impressive of the post war buildings, thanks mainly to the contribution of WA Gibbon of Cruikshank and Seward’, (p 106).

It’s a complicated story – originally the City of Manchester 1945 Plan envisaged expanding the educational centre from the university site on Oxford Rd and integrating it into a new road system in a scheme drawn up by Sir Hubert Worthington, the distinguished local architect who trained with Sir Edwin Lutyens.  Part of this post war reconstruction included clearing existing housing to create new academic, cultural and residential areas – in effect an entire university district filled with creative, bohemian and boffin types. However the clearances didn’t happen for another 20 years and the idea of closing off Oxford Rd to create this enclosed campus never came to fruition either, though the dream has re-surfaced on and off ever since…

Then in 1962 Lord Bowden commissioned a plan for a student village drawn up by John Sheard of Manchester architects Cruikshank and Steward, but within a year the city council, Manchester University, UMIST and Manchester United Hospitals appointed newcomers Wilson and Womersley to prepare yet another development plan for the whole of the education precinct. The pair produced a grand design to create an integrated campus with segregation of pedestrians and traffic via high level walkways linking the university to RNCM and MMU art department. This also came to nothing apart from a few walk way provisions, the ghosts of which survive along the edges of the Mabel Tylecote Building and above the Precinct centre.

The perseverance of Bowden meant that the newly founded Institute did eventually get the core of its own masterplan underway. As Richard Brook explains in his article for the Twentieth century society website

The new UMIST campus expanded to the south of the Manchester to Liverpool railway, extending into Chorlton upon Medlock, and included a number of new buildings and conversions by various architects including Harry S. Fairhurst + Sons and Thomas Worthington + Sons, both long established Manchester firms. It was the latter who designed the uncompromising square grid facades of Staff House (1960); Hubert Worthington, son of Thomas, was responsible for the design of the original Educational Centre in the 1945 plan.

The masterplan for the campus was developed in 1960 by W.A. Gibbon of Cruickshank and Seward and it is Gibbon’s legacy that presides over the stepped site as it descends toward the Medlock Valley. Chandos Hall, the Renold Building, the Barnes-Wallis building and the Ferranti Building are all by Gibbon and all feature his trademark white concrete. He is known to have visited Brazil prior to this commission and was influenced by the work of Niemeyer, though the only real flourishing gesture is the curved stair that elegantly sweeps into the courtyard between the Renold and Barnes-Wallis buildings.

The result was what even the picky old Pevsner declares embodies a ‘sense of purpose lacking in most of their contemporaries….’ (p124)

And what this tangled web of a tale demonstrates is that UMIST lies at the centre of a series of wider plans and aspirations of the Corporation, its various planners, architects and several scattered educational institutions to match the optimistic post war mood of the nation and ensure Manchester remained at the forefront of the new technological revolution.