Architects appointed to deliver ‘re-imagining the Harris’

Manchester architects Buttress has been appointed by Preston City Council to deliver a major National Lottery Heritage Fund redevelopment project at the Grade I-listed Harris.

Opening to the public in 1893, the Victorian founders’ vision was that the Harris Free Library, Museum & Art Gallery would be the focus of culture, arts and learning, an embodiment of aspirations in late 19th century Preston.

The ‘re-imagining the Harris’ project is inspired by those founders’ early ambitions, while also responding to the needs of the people of Preston and the surrounding region for the next generation.

The aim of the project is to provide an innovative environment in which museum, library and art gallery collections and services are fused to provide one flexible and community-led hub, allowing the Grade I-listed building and its collections to be presented more effectively.

The project will involve exploring the opening up of existing, but currently disused, entrances and the reconfiguration of the interior to encourage both day and evening footfall.

A new staircase and lift will also be created along with the delivery of a maker space for use by local people.

The practice’s heritage consultancy team has also been appointed to provide a conservation plan which will provide historical context and understanding to the project.

Cllr Peter Kelly, cabinet member for culture and leisure at Preston City Council, said: “Appointing Buttress architects to deliver our ambitious re-imagining the Harris project is a huge step towards making our vision a reality and ensuring it remains the city’s cultural hub.

“The project will transform the building as we know it and form an exciting new creative and cultural space for the people of Preston now and for future generations.”

Neal Charlton, director at Buttress, added: “The Harris has been at the centre of civic and cultural life in Preston for more than 125 years.

“This project will enhance the role the building plays in the community, allowing it to reach new and more diverse audiences, while encouraging visitors to connect with its important collections in new ways.

“We are delighted to have been appointed to this significant project and looking forward to working with Preston City Council to bring the vision to life.”

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