Beetham yesterday celebrated the top out of their landmark £150 million skyscraper with a light show and fireworks.
Since it began to rise into the skyline in August 2004, Beetham Tower Manchester has rapidly grown to it's full height of 50 storeys and 157m, with the decorative steel and glass 'blade' bringing the total structural height up to 171m.
It's highly prominent position on one of Manchester's premier thoroughfares, Deansgate, along with it's proximity to tram and train routes, has made the tower an instant landmark that is popular with much of the public. However, it has been criticised by some for its 'boxy' minimalist design.
The aesthetic appeal may be debatable but the structural significance is not. The top 26 floors of the concrete frame building are cantilevered out 4m from the bottom 24, creating a top heavy effect which is a rare sight, especially on the British skyscraper scene. The extreme slimness of the tower not only creates a profile that changes drastically from different views, but also makes it one of the slimmest towers in the world, with an aspect ratio (height divided by least width) of approximately 1:9. At skybar level, two glass 'portholes' offer a view of the 77m drop directly below, not recommended after a few glasses of wine!
As well as being by far the tallest building in Manchester, it is also has the highest living space in Britain (not the highest in Europe as most local and national media seem to think), the tallest mixed use building in Britain and the country's tallest outside of London.
The building will contain 219 apartments, varying in price from £100,000 for the cheapest studios to a reported £3 million for the 750 square metre duplex penthouse at the top of the structure, snapped up by architect Ian Simpson.
Most of the apartments were sold to clued up investors keen to get some of the success that had been experienced in Liverpoo,l before the tower was given planning permission in October 2003.
It will also be home to a 279 bedroom 4 Hilton hotel, adding badly needed higher end hotel space to the city centre which suffers from a shortage especially during summer. A four storey grey hotel annex building will contain a swimming pool, a ballroom, function/conference rooms and a coffee shop.
A 12 storey office building will also be built as part of the project; however the 5,600 square metre block is dependent on a pre let.
Not only does the tower dominate its immediate surroundings, including the nearby historical district of Castlefield, where the Romans constructed a fort 2000 years ago, but it is highly visible throughout the Manchester conurbation and far beyond. In favourable (and unfortunately, somewhat rare) conditions, the tower should be visible from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral (56km) Blackpool Tower (66km), and most impressively, the top of Mount Snowdon (130km). These are quite feasibly the farthest reaching views in the U.K thanks to the lack of mountains in view of Canary Wharf in London.
The hotel is due to open in August 2006, with the apartments following suit before the end of the year.
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