301 Deansgate, Manchester, UK
WSP Cantor Seinuk
February 2004 - 26th April 2006
photo Paul Dunkerley / ICE R&D Fund
The mixed-use concrete-frame Beetham Tower in central Manchester was the highest residential block in Britain on its completion and the tallest building in Britain outside London.
Beetham Tower is 169m high with 49 floors above ground and two basement levels with underground parking for residents. The 285 bedroom Hilton Manchester Deansgate hotel occupies the lower 23 storeys, above which are 219 luxury apartments and one two-floor penthouse.
The slender building is rectangular in section. It is founded on a 3m thick concrete raft rather than piles, and has a concrete frame. The concrete grade varies from C60 at the bottom to C40 at the top. Retardants were used in the mixes to delay setting while transporting and placing the concrete. The flat slab concrete floors are post-tensioned, giving better fire and noise insulation.
There are two 8m by 9m cores, constructed with self-climbing formwork, set 9m apart with two shear walls connecting them running full height throughout the structure. The shear walls are 500mm thick at the bottom and 300mm thick at the top. The easterly core contains stairs, lifts and services. A combined heat and power plant uses heat created on site to provide domestic hot water and to generate electricity.
The façade is glass curtain walling with internal perimeter reinforced concrete columns. There are fins on the east and west sides. The north side has a 4m wide cantilever step-out on the 24th floor to increase the width from 16m to 20m, by 40m long. The cantilever is supported by columns that extend from the core shear walls and gradually step out, reducing the effective cantilever to 2m by the 28th floor.
A glass solar ‘blade’ sits atop the south side of the roof, increasing its height to 171m. From the top of the tower it is possible to see the Welsh mountains, Liverpool and the Blackpool Tower. The building can be seen from 10 counties.
An adjoining five storey steel-framed ‘podium’ building contains event rooms, a restaurant and the ballroom, which can accommodate up to 600 people, and has storey-depth steel trusses to carry the ceiling on a clear 16m span.
The project cost some £150m in total, including internal finishes, which were completed in 2007. The architect owns the duplex penthouse, which cost £3m and has 21 trees from Italy that had to be planted inside the building before the roof was constructed. Several famous football players also own apartments in the tower.
In 2007, it was awarded Best Building by the Concrete Society, Best Tall Building by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitats and Project of the Year in the North West Regional Construction Awards. In 2008, it won Project of the Year and a Design & Construction Award in the RICS North West Awards.
Considerable wind effects were encountered during construction, causing delays and difficulties using the cranes. Once completed the building emitted a high-pitched noise, caused by winds hitting the glass blade. Several attempts at damping the sound in 2006 and 2007 failed. Further remedial work on the blade to reduce the noise level was carried out in February 2010.
Architect: Ian Simpson Architects
Building services: WSP Buildings
Fire engineering: WSP Fire
Main contractor: Carillion Construction plc
Research: PD and AJD
"High Flyers", in Construction Manager, January 2007, pp19-21
"Beetham's Hilton Tower rises to challenges", in ICE North West Newsletter, Summer 2006