DescriptionThis project, in which Lutyens again collaborated with Whinney Son and Austen Hall, was a rare opportunity to design a commercial building for a city-centre island site. Lutyens was responsible for the elevations and the banking hall of the eight-storeyed tower. The building, commissioned in 1928, was substantially redesigned in 1933 when Reginald McKenna suggested revisions to the original design of the upper floors. The differences between Cyril Farey’s perspective of 1931 and the building completed in 1935 suggest that the alterations were substantial. (Amery et al, 1981, Cat no.199)
The Midland Bank (former), s side, occupies an island site at the top (e end) of the street. It is the King of King Street, the major work in Manchester of Sir Edwin Lutyens in collaboration with Whinney, Son & Austen Hall, who took care of the practical side. Carving was by J. Ashton Floyd of Manchester. Designed 1928, erected 1933–5. It is a nearly square block and treated as such, with the upper motifs identical on all four sides. The two angle porches are in King Street, and the entrances all have pilasters which die away and disappear, as at Lutyens’s Midland Bank on Poultry in London. The elevation steps back and contracts and the tops of the centre motifs have French pavilion roofs. Sheer walls with simple openings contrast with the texture of the lower entrances and the upper stages. The proportions are ingeniously calculated, as Lutyens in his later years adored to do. The top stage is two-thirds of the stage from the obelisks to the next set-back, and that middle stage is two-thirds of the bottom stage. Also the walls above the first floor sill have a very slight batter: 1 in. in every 11 ft (2.5 cm in every 3.35 metres).* The banking hall could not be skylit, so Lutyens gave it arcading on all four sides and wooden galleries much as in Wren churches. The galleries have large arched windows to let enough light in. The Delhi order, with bells, which Lutyens devised for the Viceroy’s House in New Delhi (1913–29), is used.
* Eitan Karol suggests that the rising set-backs show the influence of Charles Holden, e.g. his Law Society in Chancery Lane, London. (Hartwell et al, 2005, p.317)
BibliographyAmery, C., Richardson, M. and Stamp, G., (1981) Lutyens, the Work of the English Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944): Hayward Gallery London, 18 November 1981 – 31 January 1982. London: Arts Council of Great Britain.
Hartwell C, Hyde M & Pevsner N (2005) Lancashire: Manchester and the South East. The Buildings of England. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Also Cited InI Butler, A., 1950. The architecture of Sir Edwin Lutyens: the Lutyens memorial series. Vol III: Town and Public Buildings: Memorials: The Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool, Country Life: London and Scibners: New York.