Piccadilly Gardens is a green space in Manchester city centre, England, between Market Street and the edge of the Northern Quarter. Piccadilly runs eastwards from the junction of Market Street with Mosley Street to the junction of London Road with Ducie Street; to the south are the gardens and paved areas. The area was reconfigured in 2002 with a water feature and concrete pavilion by Japanese architect Tadao Ando.
The square at Piccadilly Gardens has been for many years the central hub of Manchester's public transport system. The square is only five minutes' walk from the mainline Manchester Piccadilly railway station and 10 minutes walk from Manchester Victoria railway station.
As part of the ongoing regeneration of the city centre, the city council had set up an international competition for the redesign of Piccadilly Gardens. The winners – announced in 1998 from a short-list that had been whittled down to six – were the landscape architects EDAW and its partners, consisting of: the engineers Arup; renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando; local architects Chapman Robinson; and lighting engineer, Peter Fink. The square was finally revamped in 2001–02, to include new green space and fountains (by EDAW), and a pavilion (by Tadao Ando) which partially functions to shield the gardens from the transport interchange. At the same time One Piccadilly Gardens was constructed on the eastern edge of the square. The resulting space was radically different from the old gardens, and the only links to the past that remained were the original statues. The redesign was part of the massive construction process that covered Manchester in the buildup to the city hosting the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Previously the square was becoming increasingly run down and was considered unsafe. At a contract cost of around £10 million Piccadilly Gardens was renovated and ended up being shortlisted in 2003 for the Prime Minister's Better Public Building Award. Part of the area was built on to help fund the redevelopment.
The redevelopment of the Gardens soon came under fire for its "cold, modernistic" design. The concrete partition wall was dubbed the "Berlin Wall" by locals, and the hastily turfed grass regularly turned to mud after some public use. It continues to be returfed regularly. The fountains, whilst popular with children in the summer, have also been subject to scrutiny, with broken glass regularly an issue. One Piccadilly Gardens is also controversial, not only for the sale of public land to private enterprise, but also because it dominates the skyline in the area, and blocks sunlight from the south-east.
The square is surrounded by buildings that cover the ages of modern Manchester. From old Victorian warehouses and shops dating from the Industrial Revolution and Manchester's role as the cotton marketing capital to the new office block development which is part of the 21st century regeneration of the square. The building that visitors are likely to notice first is the huge complex of Piccadilly Plaza which stands over Piccadilly.
Piccadilly Plaza was originally built by Covell Matthews and Partners from 1959 to 1965 and has been recently re-modelled by Leslie Jones Architects in 2001 (this mainly involved replacing the old Chinese style-roofed towers of Bernard House). Piccadilly Plaza contains the renovated Mercure Hotel (formerly known as the Ramada Manchester Piccadilly and Jarvis Piccadilly Hotel); the refurbishment was completed in 2008. The huge tower block, originally known as Sunley Tower, was renamed City Tower. In 2005 the Plaza underwent large-scale remodelling with recladding of the tower and cleaning of concrete façades. The whole complex has benefited from increased investment from Bruntwood Ltd, which bought Piccadilly Plaza in 2004–05, and now several retail outlets on ground level, and large office space on the levels above (once the home of Piccadilly Radio) are available.
The Thistle Hotel stands on the south-eastern side of Piccadilly Gardens. The hotel was originally three cotton warehouses (with a fourth standing to the left) which made up the four warehouses designed by Edward Walters between 1851 and 1858. Also, there is the Grade II* listed Britannia Hotel on Portland Street which was formerly the largest of Manchester warehouses: Watts Warehouse (architects Travis & Mangnall).
In addition to the many listed buildings that stand around Piccadilly Gardens there are also numerous statues:
These four stand on what was the esplanade of the infirmary and were erected at different times before the move to Oxford Road. The first was Peel's statue in 1853 and the last Queen Victoria's which came after her death.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Piccadilly Gardens, Manchester.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Piccadilly – East Centre.|