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Liverpool One: Remaking a City Centre

ISBN: 978-0-470-71409-6
256 pages
May 2009
Liverpool One: Remaking a City Centre (0470714093) cover image
Liverpool is one of the most famous trading cities in the world. The view of its Pier Head with the Liver Building has become iconic: it has been called the second city of the British Empire and in the 1930s it became the model for Shanghai’s Bund. The city suffered a slow decline in the latter half of the 20th century; industries closed or moved away, postwar architecture was mostly mediocre and the city’s population fell as citizens sought employment further afield. Local people even began to shop elsewhere. As Manchester’s star ascended in the late 1990s, the heart of Liverpool was in danger of becoming economically inconsequential.

In 1999, the city council set out a challenge for international developers as part of an ambitious initiative to reverse this trend and encourage people to visit, live in and invest in Liverpool once again. The vision was for a reimagined and extended city centre, one that rethought the vast and under-used space between the principal shopping area and the city’s historic docks. Forty-seven developers expressed an interest and, after a rigorous selection process, the job went to Grosvenor.

The result is a 42-acre transformation, a mixed-use, retail-led development that embodies both contemporary urban design thinking and a deep sensitivity to ideas of place, identity and scale. Containing more than 30 individually designed buildings – including department stores, a bus station, apartments, hotels and a five acre park – this complex project was completed within an ambitious timetable to exceptionally high-quality thresholds. Grosvenor, and its 26 firms of architects, have created an entirely new, but uniquely Liverpudlian, urban district. This book tells the story of this Herculean project, its origins, its design and its delivery.

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Origins and growth.


The Paradise Street Development Area.


Retail-led regeneration.

The appointment of Grosvenor.

Development of the masterplan.

Chapter 3 CONSENT.

It was never going to be easy.

The path to planning permission.

Compulsory purchase.



The retail mix.

Securing John Lewis.

Privatised space.


The pool of architects.

Scope for creativity.

The case for a landmark landing.


Chapter 6 DELIVERY.

The finish line.

Paying for it all.

Project management.

Open for business.





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David Littlefield is an architectural writer. He has a master’s degree in interior and spatial design and has taught architecture and design at the University of the Arts London, the University of Bath and the University of the West of England. David curated the exhibition Unseen Hands: 100 years of structural engineering at the Victoria & Albert Museum in 2008. He co-wrote the book Architectural Voices: Listening to Old Buildings and authored HOME: Investing in Design, both published by John Wiley & Sons. David is a regular contributor to Architectural Design.
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