The venue which opens in summer 2022 is another boost for Manchester city centre

A new music venue, food hall and college is coming to Manchester in the iconic New Century Hall building. The "social destination" in the NOMA area near the Co-op building will take up three floors with plans to open this summer. 

Here's Jonathan Schofield's take on the planned transformation. 

Confident cities don’t get rid of the good old stuff when building the new. They re-invent the old structures and breathe new life into them. Manchester and Salford have been guilty of too much wanton architectural destruction over the last fifty years. This hinted at an underlying nervousness about what they wanted to be. 

The resurrection of the place and a return to entertainment and recreation is very welcome

The good news is the wanton destruction has faded to a minimum in the last ten years or so but, hey, let’s keep a lookout just in case anything valuable is again threatened. The good news is also that fine structures such as New Century Hall won’t be ditched. It’s a sixties building after all, from 1963, and sixties buildings tend to be disliked, even despised, except by hipsters on Bromptons with satchels. 

New Century Hall reborn

So what’s happening here? Well, owner Federated Hermes has obviously spotted the value in the building and has hired Russell WBHO) as contractors and Sheppard Robson as architects to give the city back a lively New Century Hall - or rather "New Century" as it's pointlessly been renamed. 

New Century Hall Refurbishment Manchester 1
Detail of the strong sixties exterior of New Century Image: Blackstock

The reborn building will open this summer after years of uselessness and include an 800 plus capacity live music and events venue, a creative college and a big food hall. 

Of course, a big food hall.

The live venue builds on the past when mods and rockers swaggered into the main event space along with glitter-covered, flare bedecked disco boys and girls. There were dance nights, balls and big gigs hosting Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Who, The Bee Gees and Tina Turner amongst others. It was simply the best.

Another new arts space for Manchester

The sixties decoration here is of its time and all the better for that as it fits the exterior like a glove. There’s a sprung dance floor, a fabulous feature ceiling and panelled walls. These will be complemented by state-of-the-art sound systems. The idea is to make it a flexible space for gigs, comedy and performance. It will work for conferences too. 

New Century Hall Refurbishment Manchester 3
The splendid sprung floor events venue in rouge Image: Blackstock

Manchester is going to gain a lot of "flexible spaces" in the next couple of years what with Factory in Castlefield, Co-op Live at The Etihad and a refurbished Town Hall amongst others. If we can fill them, then the city will absolutely be Britain’s entertainment capital.   

And another food hall

Some of the overspill folk from all the entertainment venues might end up munching and guzzling on the ground floor of this building. New Century Kitchen will seat up to 300 people, in 10,000 sq ft. This is another big space. New Century Kitchen “will host five independent food operators alongside more permanent “New Century” pizza and coffee concepts.” There’ll be a central bar and an entertainment space while the whole thing will open onto car-free Sadler’s Yard on the southern side. This will be a big operation to fill, so originality in the food offering along with competitive pricing will be the order of the day. 

New Century Hall Refurbishment Manchester 4
Detail from New Century Image: Blackstock

The basement will host Access Creative College. This organisation targets the creative industry and already has a couple of sites in the city. The focus here will be on degree-level courses in music, games and computing delivered by the educational provider, DBS Institute.

New Century House, the mini-skyscraper, that adjoins New Century Hall were all part of a complex of Cooperative Movement buildings along with the CIS Tower further up Miller Street. The Co-op wanted set-piece architecture as good as anything being built in London or the US. New Century Hall, designed by GS Hay and Gordon Tait, was initially intended as the conference hall. It was clunkily based on Bauhaus architect Mies van der Rohe, Illinois Institute in Chicago, with its bold black metal verticals moving up and then over the building. 

New Century Hall Illinois Manchester
Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago: the model for New Century Hall Image: Wikimedia

Despite that daft renaming the resurrection of the place and a return to entertainment and recreation is very welcome. It adds another string to the bow of the northern end of the city centre. From the wilderness a decade ago this has become a true destination for the leisure and hospitality industry. Let’s hope the adjacent and connecting New Century House with its classic sixties forecourt from Corporation Street can be rescued soon. Having all this variety of buildings with a variety of uses adds to the dynamism of both the life of the city and the scene it presents to visitors.

New Century, Mayes Street, Manchester M60 4ES opens in summer 2022.

Read next: Hip hip Maray! Liverpool hit restaurant to open in Manchester

Read again: MIF announces new creative director for 2023 programme

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