The renovation of Manchester Town Hall and Manchester Central Library by SimpsonHaugh and Partners includes a new link entrance between the two structures. Conceived as an undulating, reflective stainless steel 'cloud' roof sitting on transparent glass walls, the link sits between the two historic buildings.
Eckersley O'Callaghan (EOC) provided detailed engineering for the glass to realise the elegance envisaged by the concept. EOC assisted Waagner-Biro by taking on and developing the initial concept design by AKT II for the glass – rationalising and detailing as part of their structural engineering process to full fabrication information. The original structural concept comprised of stacked glass panels connected to glass fins which would support the roof above. EOC substantially rationalised this by removing the fins and utilising full height glass panels which would directly support the roof. The result was a more refined and minimal structure with fewer glass joints and less visible metalwork. Joined together with structural silicon between adjacent panels, the glass wall acts as a monolithic shell to resist lateral loads due to wind. EOC coordinated structural loads between the contractors responsible for the roof and substructure foundation. EOC enabled the approval of the innovative glass structure by Building Control.
EOC's contribution enabled a specialist element of the design to be realised for this public structure in central Manchester – marking the renovation of two of Manchester's architectural icons.
EOC is recognised today as one of the leading authorities in the structural design of glass through its work with Apple's iconic retail stores, amongst many projects. This expertise is developed over a decade of cutting-edge research and engagement with industry to continuously improve and innovate. These structural glass projects are frequently referenced as leading in both glass design and ambition and are justified through building control authorities in over 10 countries.
Construction in a historic setting always poses a greater challenge. Waagner-Biro's company portfolio includes numerous examples, and the Glazed Link in Manchester complements the list with a particularly exacting object. The project is part of the comprehensive measures planned for the city's town hall complex.
A tear drop-shaped room in the floor plan, in the form of a vestibule, ensures that visitors enter the city's library or town hall with dry feet. The curved walls are completely constructed from room-height glass panes, whilst the cloud-shaped ceiling is manufactured from mirror-polished stainless steel, creating highly interesting and varied visual impressions.
To realize such a project the focus needs to be on constructability. Building constraints influence how an entity can be built, which impacts delivery sizes as well how the components are lifted into place and eventually come together into one complete structure. Specifically for the Glazed Link the 27 tons of stainless steel ceiling were landed on structural scaffolding in five segments and welded together. The 26 full height glass panes were "slid" in under the roof and then the roof eventually lowered into its final position.
The Glazed Link stands in particular for realisation of the strategic alignment, in this case in the sense of expanding the product portfolio with glass bearing structures.
Architect: Ian Simpson
Client: Laing O'Rourke
Final Client: Manchester City Council
James O'Callaghan, born 1971 in Bedford, UK, is a structural engineer with over 20 years of experience. Widely acknowledged as an authority on structural glass, he is perhaps best known for his highly innovative designs for glass stairs, bridges and other structural elements in Apple's iconic retail stores around the world. He co-founded engineering design practice Eckersley O'Callaghan with Brian Eckersley in 2004. The practice is based in London, with offices in New York, San Francisco, Paris and Shanghai.
Completed projects (selection): The Regional Performing Arts Center, Philadelphia, USA (2002), David L Lawrence Convention Center, Pittsburgh, USA (2003), School of Business, University of Chicago, USA (2004), Apple 5th Avenue, New York, USA (2006), Stranchally Castle Pool Building, Cork, Ireland (2009), Apple Store, IFC Shanghai, China (2010), Apple 5th Avenue, New York, USA (2011), Apple Zorlu, Istanbul, Turkey (2013), Manchester Town Hall Link Entrance, Manchester, UK(2015).
Current projects (selection): Apple Campus Headquarters, USA, SF MOMA, San Francisco, USA, Apple Theatre, USA, Sky Pool, London, UK.
Awards (selection): IStructE Supreme Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering (2004), Queens Award for Enterprise, Innovation (2010), IStructE Supreme Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering (2014), WAN Award (2014).
Peter Lugger, born 1970 in Innsbruck. Structural Engineering studies at Lehigh University, Pennsylvania, USA. 1991–1993 Bachelor of Science. 1993–1995 Master of Science in Structural Engineering. After working a few years as a consultant on long span bridges in the USA, Peter joined the company Waagner-Biro in 1998 as a Project Manager. In the following years he has worked successfully on several international steel and glass projects.
Completed projects (selection): Kuwait Scientific Center, Kuwait (2000), Tower Place in London, UK (2002), Ten Exchange Square in London, UK (2004), Souk Al Nakheel, Mall of the Emirates in Dubai, UAE (2005), Dubai Festival City in Dubai, UAE (2007), YAS Island, Marina Hotel in Abu Dhabi, UAE (2009), SIEMENS Urban Sustainability Center in London, UK (2012), Manchester Town Hall Glazed Link Entrance in Manchester, UK (2015).
Current projects (selection): Paddington Canopy in London, UK, Kirk Kapital HQ in Vejle, Denmark.