One Of Three
Manchester s original Daily Express building is considered the best of the three similar newspaper offices built for Beaverbrook Associated Newspapers Ltd. The others are in Glasgow and London s Fleet Street, where Ellis and Clark were retained as architects. In Manchester, the second of the three, Owen Williams was able to take on the role of both architect and engineer.
The site, bordered as it is by wide streets on three sides, allowed Williams to make the most of the "glass box" concept. Not only did it enable good use of daylighting but it also allowed the printing works to be viewed from the street — making it an exciting building.
Williams was able to respond to the operational demands of the client s industrial processes and their exact workflow requirements by designing a concrete column-and-slab structure that provided unencumbered working areas. This was done by carefully optimising the spans and the unobtrusive positioning of columns. Williams also adopted a true curtain wall glazing system using clear glass and Vitrolite (black glass). Bands of Vitrolite were used to both conceal and represent the positions of the columns and floor slabs — the presses in the 7.3m high printing hall were fully visible. The hall floor was raised to loading deck level, allowing partial views of the basement as well. This arrangement made a spectacular sight, particularly at night when the presses were in full flow and the hall and basement brightly lit.
Fifth Storey And Roof
The fifth storey and roof level plant rooms step back progressively to allow for window cleaning — a trademark of Williams architectural work. Cradles are suspended from a series of permanent arms projecting from the fifth floor balconies enabling the cleaners to haul themselves up and down the face of the building.Another Williams trademark is the use of increased floor slab depths at column heads to accommodate the extra steel reinforcement needed in the concrete at these points. In this buiding he uses asymmetrical, tapered cruciform shapes, each adjusted to suit the particular span.Unusually, each column on any one floor is subtly different depending on its location. At the column heads, provision was made for service ducts to pass through. Williams also introduced under floor service ducts for lighting and telephone wiring. This allowed flexibility in the layout of office areas.
Contributed by ArchiTeam
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