The Civil Justice Centre at Spinningfields was launched yesterday evening with plenty of heavy weight support. Sir Richard Leese, City Council Leader, and Lord Falconer, the Lord Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Justice spoke a few words along with John Denton of the Aussie architects Denton Corker Marshall.
As reported in Confidential (see the Architecture section) this building is a triumph: eye-popping architecture which also happens to be the biggest court project since the Royal Courts of Justice were built in London a century ago. The exterior is special but the interior is something else. The glazed hall on the west rises through fifteen double-height levels. It’s astonishing, a vertical triumph, cathedral-like in scale and ambition.
In the 1860s the Assize Courts by the same architect as the Town Hall, Alfred Waterhouse, opened at Strangeways, and were immediately recognised as nationally, even internationally significant. They were destroyed in World War II: the Civil Justice Centre is a worthy heir.
The building which opens for business later this year contains 47 courtrooms and 75 consultation rooms and is located at the end of Bridge Street in the city centre. It will ensure, as Lord Falconer said at the launch, that ‘Manchester attracts a huge amount of legal work that might have gone elsewhere’. Of course lawyers aren’t the most popular members of society but they circulate a vast amount of money around the economy – not all of which they keep.
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