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WE ARE INSIDE THE LOBBY OF THE URBIS CENTRE - It's Thursday 11 April 2002, and the building has been opened to invited members of the media for the official media preview.

At present, the foyer is empty, but soon, reception desks, seats, tables and other furniture will be installed. The ground floor foyer will be an open-access area. A giant wall-mounted display, the City Wall, will tell the history of Manchester in three minutes, tempting visitors to pay the entrance fee and visit the main exhibits. The building is enveloped in a double layer of glass curtain walls, allowing us to see out into the city beyond. Through the semi-opaque glass is the facade of Victoria Station.

EWM says: It's almost a pity this empty space has to be filled. It's like a art gallery, but the exhibition content is the city outside the glass walls.


AT THE URBIS MEDIA PREVIEW on 11 April 2002, organised by leading PR company Spin Media, I sat with invited journalists, tv crews photographers and radio interviewers and heard presentations by Tony Wilson (far right), who was compere, leader of Manchester City Council Richard Leese (centre), Peter Higgins, creative director of Land Design Studio (on the podium, left) and museum director Elizabeth Usher.

EWM says: The presentation was low key - no dry ice, explosions or fancy on-screen graphics. None of this was necessary - it's clear from what the four speakers had to say that the Urbis Centre is going to be something amazing.

TONY WILSON (top left) was the compere at the Urbis Media Preview, held 11 April 2002. The other speakers were Councillor Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, Peter Higgins, creative director of Land Design, responsible for a large part of the exhibits, and Elizabeth Usher, Director of the Urbis Centre.

EWM says: Tony Wilson gave a coherent and well-structured talk, singing the praises of Manchester over London and alluding to his German ancestors who migrated to Manchester. Councillor Leese highlighted the key role of Manchester City Council in the conception and development of the Urbis Centre - It's true - without the impetus provided by the Labour-controlled council, the Urbis Centre would never have been born. Peter Higgins gave us an intriguing foretaste of this groundbreaking exhibition-to-be. Elizabeth Usher talked about how Urbis is intended to serve local people, visitors and in particular, school groups who will have free admission.

THE GLASS ELEVATOR is a is a unique attraction - It's the only lift in Europe which rises at 45 degrees. In fact it's more of a cross between a lift and a funicular railway.

Here we see members of the press being carried up from ground floor to the fourth floor - It's the first time the lift has been used by visitors. There were a couple of teething troubles, a quick repair had to be made before we were able to ascend to the top.

EWM says: The ride to the top was less of a glide and more of a trundle, as the glass ride runs on tiny wheels. The experience is new and yet familiar. In the past, for some reason, I've had repeated dreams about lifts which go sideways as well as up and down - Maybe I was dreaming about this.

TONY WILSON PERFORMS A 'PIECE TO CAMERA' as the Glass Elevator ascends to the fourth floor of the Urbis Centre building - The date is 11 April 2002. Tony Wilson was the compere of the Urbis Media Preview presentation, which has just ended.

In the lift are members of the media, and others connected with the Urbis project.

EWM says: I've never shared a lift before with a person whose life, times, successes, mistakes and character faults have been dramatised on film. The movie '24 Hour Party People' is currently showing at cinemas in Manchester and nationwide.

NEXT WE SEE HOW THE CITY LOOKS when viewed from the top of the Urbis Centre. Go to the next page.

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