Whitworth Art Gallery is a lively and substantial gallery in Manchester, based in impressive Edwardian buildings, adjacent to the Whitworth Park. It houses an important collection of textiles, prints, wallpapers and Modern Art. Substantial alterations to the whole interior were made in the 1960’s, designed by the architect John Bickerdike. In 1991 ABK were approached by the gallery and asked to produce proposals relating to both the existing building and new building requirements.

The reorganisation and restoration of parts of the interior respects the original building and the 1960’s conversion. The proposals include a suite of three temporary exhibition galleries and upgraded services to provide suitable air conditioning and lighting to all galleries and stores. The whole of the building’s basement and lower ground floor will be upgraded to form better storage and a suite of study rooms.

The proposals include a new sculpture court at first floor level which improves the pattern of flow through the upper galleries. An extension to the west will provide a new lecture theatre, restaurant and Friends’ room suite. To the northwest, a new extension will contain workshops, studio, storage and major plant spaces. The proposals have been designed to facilitate phasing in relation to fund raising.

External materials for the modern extensions have been selected in sympathy with the imposing red brick and terra cotta of the Edwardian building, to reflect a traditional Mancunian colour scheme.