Manchester Metropolitan University

Constructing Excellence

Morgan Sindall Construction would like to nominate Manchester Metropolitan University for the Client of the Year award. We have recently completed the MMU Arts & Humanities project and have found them to be collaborative and forward thinking client who are significantly contributing to Manchester’s economy. The project creates a new home for MMU’s faculties of Acting, Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences. Reaching seven storeys at its highest point, and with a retained Grade II listed façade, the old blends with the new to provide a c13,000 sqm facility includes a high specification theatre at its core with state-of-the-art performance, recording and audio spaces throughout. The building also offers a commercial café/ restaurant, lecture theatre, teaching and office spaces.

Constructing Excellence

Approach delivered and continuous improvement

The project itself, and the way it was led by MMU is an exemplar in best practice as defined by Constructing Excellence:

  • The project demonstrates excellent leadership from the client and collaboration between all parties, with BIM Level 2 utilised to create significant cost and time efficiencies.
  • Despite challenges including its live, city centre environment location along one of Manchester’s busiest roads, the project was delivered safely and with minimal disruption to the public
  • The Covid19 pandemic hit the project in its final stages, however the team were able to quickly implement new ways of working which ensured the project was handed over on time – the project helped to shape the Construction Leadership Council’s “Site Operating Procedures” to ensure the safety of construction workers and visitors to our sites and offices
  • The new building is much more energy efficient than its predecessor and has achieved a BREEAM Very Good rating. Lifecycle costs have been reduced
  • The new building has retained heritage and enhanced the local area – project stakeholders and the public alike have provided excellent feedback
  • The project demonstrates the highest levels of the application of best practice, innovation and technical achievement to overcome the project’s challenges Continuous improvement is central to MMU’s philosophy.

We are currently undertaking a post-project review with MMU to discuss the benefits of our collaboration, what went well and what can be improved upon in future schemes, not just with ourselves but other contractors working on MMU’s masterplan.

Constructing Excellence

Key achievements

  1. MAKING MANCHESTER A LEADING CITY FOR ARTS & CULTURE Manchester Metropolitan University’s mission statement is: “to make higher education accessible and beneficial to all those with the passion and ability to succeed.” This is reflected in MMU’s investment in projects such as the Arts and Humanities building which provides an inspirational venue for high-quality teaching by award-winning writers, artists and journalists. Manchester’s
    creative sector is expected to be one of the city’s key growth sectors over the next decade and this new facility supports a growing need for training in the expanding creative and media industries in the region. It has retained heritage and enhanced the local environment whilst providing a unique cultural hub within MMU for students and the public. Having also delivered the Manchester School of Art Building with MMU back in 2013, we believe the University’s
    substantial investment in its arts offer will cement Manchester’s position as one of the country’s leading cities for Arts and Culture.

2. COVID19

The Covid19 pandemic hit the project in its final stages, however the site team were able to quickly implement new ways of working which ensured the project was handed over on time. The project remained fully operational throughout the pandemic, and the best practice measures which were quickly implemented have been
instrumental in shaping the Construction Leadership Councils “Site Operating Procedures”.

Examples of action taken includes:

  • Site canteen occupancy reduced via single person table
  • Handover tests using virtual technologies
  • Thermal cameras and hand sanitising stations
    installed onsite
  • QR codes onsite with our Covid19 plans


The project is located on the site of the former Chorlton-on-Medlock Townhall which dates back to 1832. The townhall’s Grade II Listed façade was incorporated into the Mabel Tylecote facility, constructed in the 1970’s, and has been incorporated into the new building, retaining an important piece of Manchester’s history. The façade retention, and adjoining Grade II Llisted Grosvenor Building posed challenges for the construction of the new seven storey facility and basement. Complex excavation works were required to construct the basement beneath the foundation levels of the two Grade II listed structures, along with removal of various legacy foundations. During excavation, a series of 1800’s police cells were uncovered.

Accessing the cells to perform location mapping and surveying created complex vibration and stability challenges. Archaeologists were able to refer to historic photos to approximate the locations of the cell arches and corridors and ascertain where to dig. Once uncovered, the cells and corridors where found to have been bricked in requiring further remedial works. Although the cells are once again covered, historical artefacts such as a historic fireplace have been
removed for display.