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UPON ARRIVAL at the top of the Urbis Centre we walk into an open area as yet uncarpeted and devoid of any exhibits or displays. Beyond the double glass curtain wall is a view of Manchester city centre, seen from a new angle. The fifth and sixth floors will house a high quality restaurant and bar, accessible via a separate entrance.

EWM says: Construction workers in helmets and reflective coats are still busy installing the interior - Only two months to go and it looks like there's a lot of work to do yet.

THE TOP FLOORS OF THE URBIS CENTRE will serve as a restaurant bar, though on 11 April 2002, nothing has been installed yet.

Light floods in from outside, casting shadows of window frames on the bare concrete floor - covering has yet to be laid.

EWM says: This is a remarkable view of the centre of Manchester from a new and captivating angle. In comparison to the nearby CIS Building, we are not very high up, but we can clearly see the streets and buildings below, and the field of vision is more than three quarters of a full circle. We have a great view of the not-so-lovely Arndale Centre tower in the centre. One minor criticism is that the double glass walls - here without the semi-opaque covering - don't quite allow a fully unimpeded view.

WE ARE LOOKING from the top floor of the Urbis Centre towards the new No1 Deansgate building, completed 2002. To its right is the 1970's building which now houses the Ramada Renaissance Hotel and directly in front of us, the glass dome of the Corn Exchange (built 1905), now the Triangle shopping centre. The Lowry Hotel can be seen just beyond the Ramada Renaissance, on the extreme right of the picture

EWM says: It's amazing to see familiar buildings from a new angle - The new No1 Deansgate has now also become almost familiar - It's the work of Urbis architect Ian Simpson who I also noticed walking around the building during today's Media Preview (11Apr02). This view probably shows its sloping roof from the best angle. Due to shooting through two layers of glass, the picture has a green cast.

THE VIEW WEST FROM THE TOP FLOOR of the Urbis Centre allows us to look out across the River Irwell, over the site of the former Exchange Station, towards the old industrial centre of Salford, and the 1960's flats beyond.

Exchange Station, situated on the Salford side of the Irwell, was one of Manchester's four main railway stations. It was closed in 1969, and its arched train shed was taken down. The former platform areas have been used as a car park ever since. The bridge across the Irwell, lower left, which served as the station approach is now the car park entrance. According to redevelopment proposals this bridge is to be removed. Directly below is is the new park next to the cathedral and on the right, the roof of Chetham's School.

EWM says: An interesting view which tells us a lot about the changing times and fortunes of Manchester's neighbouring city of Salford. From inside the museum of the modern city, we have a great view of the city outside.

COUNCILLOR RICHARD LEESE talks to Granada Television on the day of the Urbis Centre media preview, 11 April 2002. Councillor Leese is leader of the Labour-controlled Manchester City Council, and has been closely involved in the development of the Urbis Centre from the beginning.

In the background we can see the telephone exchange on the left, Highland House, now used for apartments and a hotel, and centre right, the tower of Manchester Cathedral.

EWM says: Councillor Leese is looking rather serious - perhaps because he is talking about the opposition Liberal Democrats and their statement today that they would not have supported the Urbis Centre if they had known the City of Manchester would have to pay running costs. These have been given as either £700,000 or £1m per year.

Councillor Leese is absolutely right when he says that the Urbis Centre will have many benefits for Manchester, including new investment, inner city reneneration, job creation and an influx of new visitors. With a project of this type, financial hiccups are to be expected. Now that the Urbis Centre is almost a reality, it deserves the support of everyone. I'm sure it will be a success.

FINALLY WE TAKE A LOOK at the Urbis exterior as it looks today and in past months. Go to the next page.

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