From New York to China: The global projects by the people set to transform Piccadilly Gardens


From Manchester to Manhattan, the architects in the running to redesign Piccadilly Gardens have been responsible for major projects all over the world. Six design teams have been chosen to move forward to the next stage of an international competition to transform the Gardens into a ‘world class space’.

Their portfolios include the Etihad Stadium, NOMA and Mayfield as well as New York’s Governors Island, Moscow’s parks and an Eden Project in China. The teams have now been shortlisted to make Piccadilly Gardens a ‘special place with a strong sense of identity, welcoming and uniquely Mancunian’. It comes as the much-maligned crime hotspot is in store for a £25m revamp.

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The 10-acre city center site which Manchester council has invited urban design and landscape teams to submit plans for includes Mosley Street, Parker Street and parts of Portland Street and Piccadilly bordering it.

The design brief recognizes the importance of a green space in the city center and envisages a ‘place for all’ where children can play, events are hosted and the tens of thousands walking through the thoroughfare every day feel safe. It also calls for planting to encourage biodiversity and improve air quality.

The initial stage of the competition – which attracted 10 entries – invited expressions of interest before credentials and experience were assessed. The six shortlisted teams will now be to develop detailed concept designs setting out their ideas with the hope of being asked in 2023.

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While designs for Piccadilly Gardens are drawn up, the Local Democracy Reporting Service has looked at the portfolios of the shortlisted teams.

Fira Landscape Ltd

Birmingham-based landscape architect Fira was behind several schemes in its home city and across the West Midlands, including revitalizing the canals around the International Convention Center in an award-winning scheme. The team was also responsible for masterplanning the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire as well as designing its new visitor centre.

It was also involved in regenerating Cardiff Bay by collaborating with Capita architects on the landscaping for the Millenium Center scheme in Wales. Fira says it has no ‘house style’ and its signature is that every project is unique.

Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay
Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff Bay

LDA Design

The 100 pc employee-owned consultancy which has an office in Manchester has restored and redesigned historic landscapes at the Royal Parks in London. The team is also leading on outside spaces, squares and roof gardens as well as London’s longest public park as part of the Battersea Power Station project.

Further afield, the company has led the restoration of nine parks in Moscow and working on the Eden Project’s first overseas venture in Qingdao, China. A little closer to home, LDA Design has led a new masterplan for the Baltic Triangle in Liverpool city center to guide its growth for the next 20 years.

Ove Arup and Partners

Arup is responsible for converting the City of Manchester Stadium, now known as the Etihad, from an athletics venue into a football stadium. The nine-month project transforming the stadium which was created for the 2002 Commonwealth Games into a 50,000-seater for Manchester City FC.

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The company also designed the Optus Stadium in Perth, Australia and the Jewel Changi Airport in Singapore featuring the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. The team also delivered the Samuel De Champlain Bridge in Montreal – one of the largest and busiest bridges in North America – two and a half years earlier than originally planned and within the project multi-billion dollar budget.

The City of Manchester Stadium ahead of City's first match there in 2003
The City of Manchester Stadium ahead of City’s first match there in 2003


Headquartered in Altrincham, the architect has been involved in many Manchester schemes including First Street, Circle Square and NOMA. The design practice was also part of the team selected to design a new £120m 15,000 seat multi-purpose arena in Copenhagen led by Danish architects 3XN.

The company has also been commissioned to work on the expansion of Anfield Stadium in Liverpool which creates new public spaces in the city. The team was also responsible for regenerating Altrincham town centre.

Studio Egret West Ltd

The London-based urban designers have been appointed as the lead architects for the Mayfield development in Manchester as well as being responsible for the landscaping of the city’s first new park for a century. The transformation of the former Mayfield Station is set to see around 1,500 homes, one-million square meters of office space and a 350-bedroom hotel.

The plans also include a new 6.5-acre park for which work is now under way. The company has also been commissioned for the Cotton Quays scheme in Salford of almost 1,500 homes, two hotels and open-air ‘harbour baths’.

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The plans for Mayfield Park
The plans for Mayfield Park

West 8

The Rotterdam urban planning and landscape architecture firm is responsible for the transformation of the once-abandoned Governors Island Park in New York. It also designed the masterplan for the Botanic Gardens in Houston, Texas.

The team was involved in transforming an inaccessible industrial dock in Shanghai into the Xinhua Waterfront Park too between 2015 and 2018. The company was commissioned to transform the Jubilee Gardens in London.


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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