Modern Theatres 1950 to 2010
The Lowry is a major centre for the visual and performing arts in Salford, in the north-west of England.1 Opened in 2000 at a cost of some £58 million and designed by Michael Wilford and Partners, it was one of the UK’s flagship ‘Millennium Projects’, supported by funding from the proceeds of the National Lottery.
Its significance relates not only to the scale and ambition of the building, and the prominence of the architectural practice that designed it, but also the intention that a major centre for the arts might catalyse the regeneration of a run-down inner-city area – an aim which has been successful.
Salford Docks were originally built in the late nineteenth century as part of the Manchester Ship Canal, a purpose-built waterway that connected the city with the River Mersey and the Irish Sea. Changes in shipping patterns after the Second World War eventually prompted the closure of the docks in 1982, and a year later Salford City Council acquired a large part of the site. A Development Plan followed, and by the end of the 1980s the idea of a ‘Centre for the Performing Arts’ had emerged – along with a drawing showing London’s Royal Albert Hall transposed to one of the dock ...
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