Thanks for the occasion to give me an opportunity to learn more about
Ian Simpson. I had seen images of the now famous ?ski-slope? Urbis
design, but I knew nothing of its architect. He is an interesting
fellow, as can be seen in this profile/interview which appeared in the
Manchester Evening News on July 17, 2003.:
Here, you will learn that Simpson is a native Mancunian (the term for
Manchester natives, as you probably know)(whose father made his living
demolishing the chimneys of old mill buildings no longer in use!).
Mr. Simpson studied architecture at Liverpool Polytechnic, and has
been partnered with a fellow Manchester architect, Rachel Haugh since
Not only has their firm, Ian Simpson Architects, designed some of the
most important new buildings of the Manchester renaissance, but before
this renaissance even got underway, the firm had been commissioned to
produce the all-important master plan for the rebuilding of the
Manchester city center, following the 1996 IRA bombing that left the
commercial heart of Manchester shattered.
For his leading role in post-bombing planning, according to the
Manchester Evening News article,?he may have done more than anyone
else to shape the sleek new Manchester.?
I believe Mr. Simpson?s prominent role in the regeneration of
Manchester may be discerned in three key areas:
1.Planning and an overall vision for the city center. The article
describes his vision this way: ?The bustling mixture of uses and
density of occupation fits with Simpson?s dream for Manchester to have
the urban throb, if not the climate, of Barcelona.?
2.Iconic public buildings, like Urbis. Urbis is part of a British
initiative to improve public/civic architecture, as explained in this
Manchester Guardian article:
3.High-rise residential buildings, both new ones and remodeling of
existing high-rise council flats.
A good overview of the firm?s projects is, of course, available at its
own website: www.iansimpsonarchitects.com.
I would also refer you to this article from Icon magazine about a
forward-looking Manchester developer with whom Simpson does a lot of
Finally, I was impressed to learn that Ian Simpson Architects was
among the semi-finalists for what is sure to be one of the new
century?s most important architectural assignments, the World Trade
Center. (See semi-finalists section of
As for my search strategy, I found that searching ?Ian Simpson? failed
to produce much useful biographical information, which turned up only
when I searched the Manchester Evening News website. I found lots of
project information and reviews, however, using ?Ian Simpson.?
Urbis is probably the Simpson project most written about and is seen
as one of the crown jewels of the new Manchester. Says The Guradian:
?Manchester, which regards itself with some justification as the
second city of England, has a proud record when it comes to cultural
regeneration. The city, which was once one of the world?s great
manufacturing powerhouses, has adapted better than most to the
postindustrial age. Three recent projects?Daniel Libeskind?s Imperial
War Museum, Sir Michael Hopkins?s extension to the city?s 19th-century
art gallery, and Ian Simpson?s Urbis?give the flavor. In this
triumvirate of very different but similarly sized projects (each cost
around £30 million), Urbis is by far the strangest.?
Most of the commentary about Urbis is favorable, but go here for a
dissenting view: www.observer.guardian.co.uk/review/story/0,6903,768765,00.html
I hope all of the above serves to satisfy your curiosity about this