Beetham Tower

This tower at the west end of Deansgate is the tallest residential tower in Europe at the time of writing. The lower floors are occupied by the Hilton Hotel chain and the upper floors are private apartments. The top two floors are owned by Simpson and famously house an olive grove of trees imported from Italy. The tower is clad in variously clear and opaque glazed panels in a seemingly random, but extremely contemporary fashion. The commercial market in Manchester is said to have limited the budget and thus a truly experimental and extravagant tower was never a realistic proposition. There is a bar on the twenty-third floor, as the building steps out, with a clear glass section of floor to allow visitors the fairground thrill of floating above the street below. The gimmickry and applied pattern only serve to reinforce the idea of this as a conventional tower, but its success is as a landmark. Unsurprisingly the huge new addition to the skyline makes a real visual impact as one approaches the city from any direction. There is a corner turning moment on each arterial route, when the tower centres on the horizon and fixes the view. Perhaps the best of these is from the M602, or the bottom of Liverpool Road; the narrow side of the monolith seems somehow more preciously precarious and perilous than the safe silhouette of the slab.