leading architect Richard Rogers is one of three practices to be shortlisted to design a £55m PFI court complex in Manchester. The project is the UK’s biggest judicial building job since the construction of the Royal Courts of Justice in 1870.
Australian architect Denton Corker Marshall and London practice Pringle Richards Sharratt join Rogers to complete the list. The trio beat off competition from several high-profile names, including US-based architect Rafael Viñoly, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw and Lord Foster. Bath-based practice Feilden Clegg Bradley is one of two reserve bidders for the scheme.

The shortlist has yet to be approved by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine of Lairg, but has been recommended by the Court Service and its project manager Mouchel.

The service is understood to be hoping for a quick decision as the scheme is slightly behind schedule, and Irvine is expected to agree to the recommendations within the next week. Last Friday, he visited Manchester to inspect two potential sites for the courts.

If approved, the three practices will have three months to develop their designs. Mouchel’s Simon Daniels, the scheme’s project director, said: “We will run a competition with the chosen design teams and they will give a presentation to a design jury in three months.”

It is understood that the Court Service has identified two potential developers for the 60-room complex.

We will run a competition with the chosen design teams and they will give a presentation to a jury

Simon Daniels, project director, Mouchel

The project is piloting a scheme to separate the appointment of the architect from the developer, in a bid to improve design quality.

The Court Service is also using the scheme to pioneer a system by which the shortlisted architects are offered an honorarium, or payment, while they work up their designs. The payment is expected to be about £50,000.

The Court Service has made the building’s design quality a priority. Last June’s advertisement in the European Union’s Official Journal said the building would be of “European significance”.