Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham greeted more than 850 WSP staff at No8 First Street, Manchester, after officially opening the firm’s new north west head office.
The engineering and professional services firm now occupies 54,000 sq. ft across the first and second floors of the building, a move that allowed WSP to bring together four existing offices spread across the city, into a single, central location.
WSP, one of the largest engineering and professional consultancies in Manchester, also benefits from two of No8’s winter garden spaces on the first floor which provide double height breakout space for employees and visitors to enjoy. WSP is also seeking Fitwel accreditation for its new office, reflecting that the health and wellbeing of staff was incorporated into the design of the space from the outset.
As well as marking the official opening of the WSP north west headquarters, Andy Burnham was on hand to inspect designs and imagery for a new prototype emergency homeless shelter that has been developed in a collaboration between WSP’s design studio team and students from the Manchester School of Architecture (MSA).
All the materials used in the prototype pod are made from reclaimed materials and the pod has been specifically designed so it can be re-constructed with just the minimum of instruction or building experience.
Mark Hurley, head of planning and WSP executive leadership sponsor for the office move, said: “We were delighted that the mayor was able to officially open our new offices now that our people have settled in. Bringing our offices together in one place is important to us as a local employer, as it is rewarding for people to have the opportunity to work on projects that transform their own neighbourhoods.
“We were also coming up to a crucial stage in the development of the emergency shelters with the MSA students, so it was perfect timing to showcase the design as part of the visit as we know this is an issue about which he is very passionate.”
Valerio Stuart, the WSP structural engineer who worked with the MSA students on the shelter project, added: “The students needed someone to provide advice on the stability and robustness of the module, as well as its construction, so WSP via our design studio initiative was delighted to be involved. The students’ brief was to use recycled materials and modular components so that the shelter could be easily reproduced and built by other organisations. This is a major achievement by the team and testament to their innovative thinking and diligent approach to the problem.”
The mayor also took the time to speak to other WSP teams working on a range of projects that are close to his heart including designing out loneliness from new builds, HS2, anti-congestion schemes, as well as the “Streets for all” strategy for Manchester which aims to address the needs of people and communities, not just vehicles and public transport, when planning for and maintaining Greater Manchester’s highways’ network of the future.