By Ben Sillitoe - 10:54AM - Tue 1st November 2011
The topping out ceremony for the Co-operative Group’s new Manchester headquarters takes place next week, as the under-construction building reaches its highest point.
It is just 16 months since work on the 325,000 sq ft BREEAM-assessed site began in the centre of the north-west city, which has been home to the mutual organisation since 1863 and is now set to continue to be throughout the 21st century and beyond.
Co-op’s striking new head office, designed by architects 3DReid and built by construction firm BAM, has already given Manchester a new landmark on the skyline, but it is its environmentally-friendly credentials that are really standing out as the build moves closer to completion.
Described as one of the most sustainable buildings in Europe, due to its use of renewable energy through a smart grid and its integration into the city’s existing transport network, Co-op’s HQ picked up four prizes at the recent Builder & Engineer Awards.
The building was named Sustainable Project of the Year and Client of the Year, while 3DReid and BAM were recognised as Architect and Main Contractor of the Year respectively.
The judges, including representatives from the Federation of Master Builders and the Royal Institute of British Architects, said the HQ will be “an embodiment of the ethical and environmental values of one of the most responsible and socially conscious organisations in the UK”.
Mark Slattery, a spokesperson for BAM, told Retail Gazette: “These awards reflect well on everybody because it means there has been a close understanding between all teams involved.
“Our working relationship is so strong that we’re able to create such a successful building.
“It’s a really ambitious project and we’ve made great progress. The indicators suggest that the build will be finished on time and be exactly what it claims to be.”
Co-op’s facilities will cost £100 million to construct, but the HQ is part of a wider development plan called NOMA, which will cost £800 million and transform Manchester’s landscape with construction taking place on four million sq ft of mixed-use land.
The HQ for the food, banking, travel and funeral services group will be the first anchor development on the site, and it is due to open on Miller Street in September 2012.
More than 4,000 workers from 90 companies will have been involved in the construction of the 16-storey building, and Co-op Group CEO Peter Marks welcomed its capacity to make both a significant commercial and eco-friendly contribution to the city.
Speaking on day one of the construction, he said: “I am confident that in the coming decades this new building, like those we occupy at the moment, will become part of the famous Manchester skyline and that journey towards iconic status starts today.”
With a number of awards pocketed and the official opening schedule set to be met, all appears to be going to plan for the ambitious development.
Following its acquisition of supermarket Somerfield in 2009, the Co-op has grown to become the fifth largest grocer in the UK, but its food business is just one of the many operations the group will run from its new home.
Co-op celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2013 and, if all goes to plan, the landmark birthday celebrations will take place from its innovative new facilities in the heart of the city where it was formed.
A spokesperson for the group told this publication: “With the topping out ceremony scheduled for next week, we are on course to move into our new home next September.”