Once one of the tallest buildings in Europe (and the tallest in Manchester until the Beetham Tower came along), the CIS Tower is an impressive and unmissable icon on the Manchester skyline. Normally off limits to the public, Manchester Modernist Society will be leading 20 lucky architecture and design fans around the tower during Love Architecture Festival (21-30 Jun), on ‘Inside the CIS’ – a special tour that will show off the décor by Misha Black and the Design Research Unit, visit the high-up, suitably imposing board room, go down into the huge basement control room and discuss the fibreglass mural in the foyer by innovative and inventive architectural sculptor William Mitchell. The group will also pop across the road for a visit to CIS’s baby sister, fellow 1960s tower New Century House, focusing on the fifth-floor ballroom – whose sprung dancefloor features in the memories of many a Mancunian of a certain age, and once played host to all the top acts, including Jimi Hendrix – and an unusual period water feature outside the entrance. Built in 1962 for the Co-operative Insurance Society, the Mies van der Rohe-esque CIS building is a towering reminder of the historic and contemporary importance of the co-operative movement in Manchester. For a long time, the Co-operative Wholesale Society (forerunner of today’s Co-operative Group) had its own architect’s department, and was at the forefront of architectural excellence. The CIS overlooks the Co-operative’s complex of buildings in between Shudehill and Victoria stations, which display an array of different architectural styles, from the art deco glamour of the Redfern and Dantzic buildings to the CIS-in-miniature New Century House and, of course, the Co-operative’s brand new headquarters at Angel Square. From the CIS’s plush board room it’s also possible to see out across Greater Manchester and beyond – definitely a room with a view!

Sat 29 Jun, CIS Tower, Miller Street, M60 0AL, FREE for members (joining costs £10), 10.45am, manchestermodernists.wordpress.com

Sat 29 Jun
Natalie Bradbury
Published on:
Mon 10 Jun 2013