Manchester’s Most Famous Architects : Part Two

Lisa Raynes

by Lisa Raynes

15/03/2017, in Main Blog | Manchester Blog

Beetham Tower, by Mancunian Architecture firm, Ian Simpson Associates

Manchester’s tallest building, Beetham Tower, Designed by architect Ian Simpson

In the second of this series, we turn our attention to a locally based Manchester architect that has made it to the highest level on the national stage. 

Ian Simpson is a Manchester architect on the highest level. One could even say that he spends most of his time in the clouds, but I am not sure how much exactly. Those who know what I mean probably now smile (I hoped to do a good pun).

This celebrated architect is most famous in Manchester for designing the Beetham Tower. The most interesting part in it is that he has his own apartment, over two floors, at the very top of it.

Why is it such an iconic building in Manchester? You just should come and look towards the city centre. If you don’t see the Beetham Tower you must be not in Manchester. I can see it wherever I go; from Chorlton, Stretford and even Sale or Urmston if I happen to be a bit higher above the second storey. The tower marks the centre of our city. There was an interesting article and a video in Manchester Evening News about this flat on top of it.

Wikipedia has a couple of interesting facts about Ian Simpson:

Ian Simpson was born and brought up in Heywood, near Rochdale,[1] the oldest of six children. His father was a demolition contractor. Excelling in art and woodwork at school, and claims he knew he wanted to be an architect from age 12.[2] He studied architecture at Liverpool Polytechnic and after he completed his studies he left to work in London with Foster and Partners.

After three years, he moved back to Manchester and set up Ian Simpson Architects with Rachel Haugh. Simpson’s lecturer’s post at Manchester University paid the bills; the practice wouldn’t make a profit for almost ten years.[2]

The main offices of the practice are in Castlefield, Manchester, and there is also has a London office.

Interestingly, while Beetham Tower may be a  famous icon of Manchester, or at least the one that stands the tallest, it is not the people’s favourite building.

Nowadays city centre Manchester sparkles with a whole host of tall buildings, which tower above the landscape. They may not appear welcoming from the outside, but if you are able to make your way inside, to places such as Beetham Tower’s Cloud 23 Bar, the views of the city and the Pennines beyond it, are just spectacular.

I think someone missed the opportunity to give a free hand to tourists to enjoy and indulge themselves by seeing what the owners of the flats can admire daily basis. It’s pity that we can only go to 25th floor if we book a place in the Beetham tower restaurant. Sitting on the top of the 47th floor, where Simpson lives in his 2 storey penthouse, enjoying views of the entire city, must be much more interesting.

Magda Haener

Magda is Pride Road’s South Manchester Architect. you can find out more about our services here

Ian Simpson Architects has designed:



RIBA International Design Competition Winner : The National Wildflower Centre [3]

MSA Design Awards – Overall Winner: Parkway Gate, Manchester [4]






  • RIBA Housing Design Awards : Designer Ian Simpson Architects [11]