ND – Hot Evening, Beautiful Day, My Kochanie is back, Great for Gliding probably except the “Blue” part, but BLUE!
Between 2004 and 2006 I watched Birmingham’s Beetham Tower take shape as it climbed skywards. A green though attractive building it’s become a focal point of the city centre as well as the tallest residential building here. As I type, I can look out on its upper floors and aircraft warning lights.
However, this Beetham is beaten into submission by what they built in Manchester. Completed a year later, Manchester’s Beetham Tower is a tour de force in comparison, the mark of an architect with conviction, direction and the sheer audacity to drag this fabulous city kicking and screaming into a post-Manhattan future.
Manchester’s tower is not just audacious for what it is, it’s positively religious when you spy it from a distance, standing proud and alone, losing nothing of that magic and only gaining in superiority as you close in on it at street level.
It’s meant to shock, but with sheer 8100dy style.
Close to the canal district, the confident rigidity it attacks the sky with is surpassed by an architectural trick, following a lucky geographic one. Birmingham’s tower is close to the Sentinels, but generally in an architecturally busy part of town anyway. Manchester’s is alone, close to the canals, mere cuttings in the ground (despite how impressive they are in their own right), surrounded by some fabulous historical buildings, but buildings that are all low-level for that history.
It’s huge, stands proud and competes with nothing locally. And this is the thing, or part of it, in Manhattan you expect skyscrapers, but in Manchester’s canal district you seriously don’t.
But a tall building in an odd place is not enough to make it iconic. It needs something more. The bottom half of the building is a 5* Hilton hotel, but the upper half plays a great trick of death-defying superiority. That ledge that hangs out towards the city centre gives a feeling of great imbalance and unease. It’s truly striking standing anywhere near it to see that it’s upright and not blown by the wind it was surely meant to defy.
The tips of my toes tingle just thinking about it. But that overhang plays a trick only the most confident can afford. That floor that hangs out also looks down as it’s fully glass. Yes, standing in that bar, walking along the overhang will sell the strongest drink to most mortals. Walk the full (long) width of that building looking down over 20 floors to street level, between your feet and tell me you don’t need another double Jack Daniels neat.
I love this building, I truly do. I hope Manchester has the confidence (and space) to continue building big, but also doing it elsewhere, because their Beetham Tower can not be overshadowed, challenged or even approached.