MSA Awards 2023 - Judge Announced

Alison Brooks

Alison Brooks will be this year’s judge of the Manchester Society of Architects Awards and we couldn’t be move thrilled!

Alison Brooks is one of the UK’s most highly awarded and internationally acclaimed architects. Raised in Welland and Guelph in Ontario, she studied architecture at the University of Waterloo before moving to the UK in 1988. Since founding her practice in 1996 she has emerged as one of the UK’s most inventive architects with works encompassing urban design and housing, higher education buildings, private houses and public buildings for the arts. In addition to receiving over 70 awards for design achievement she is the only UK architect to have received all of the RIBA’s most prestigious architectural awards: the Stirling Prize, the Manser Medal (twice), RIBA House of the Year 2020 and the Stephen Lawrence Prize.

Alison Brooks’ architectural approach springs from invested research into specific geographies, climate and cultures of each project so that her design solutions to emerge as both unique and relevant to the constituencies they serve. This is beautifully exemplified by her recently completed Cohen Quadrangle at Exeter College, Oxford. The first Oxford College to be designed by a female architect, this building demonstrates the conceptual rigour, sculptural qualities and ingenious detailing that is her practice trademark.

Alison has dedicated much of her professional career to housing design and has completed over 1000 dwellings across the UK, including the Stirling Prize-winning Accordia, Cambridge; Stirling Prize-shortlisted Newhall Be; and Mies EU Award finalist Ely Court in London. Recent high-profile commissions include mixed-use, high density urban developments in London, Vancouver and Toronto.

In the arts and education sector she is currently designing an Entrance Building and Literature Centre for Homerton College Cambridge and an art museum and study centre for one Cambridge’s oldest Colleges. Her cultural projects include the Folkestone Performing Arts Centre and the Smile, the world-famous timber pavilion for the 2016 London Design Festival. In 2022 her practice attained 2nd place in the international competition for the London School of Economics Firoz Llalji Global Hub.

Alison has become a public voice for the profession advocating the role of women in architecture, the resurgence of building craft and the value of timber as an expressive, low carbon building technology. In 2012 she was awarded BD Architect of the Year. She was subsequently awarded 2013 AJ Woman Architect of the Year in recognition of her work in housing, regeneration and education.  In 2017 Alison was appointed Royal Designer for Industry by the Royal Society of Arts; London Mayor’s Design Advocate and AJ 100 Contribution to the Profession Award. In 2020 her practice was awarded Dezeen Architect of the Year and BD Housing Architect of the Year.

Alison Brooks has contributed to architectural education for over fifteen years as External Examiner for University of Central London, University of Bath, University of Lincoln and the Architectural Association. She taught a Diploma School Unit at the Architectural Association Diploma School from 2008-2010 and served as External Examiner from 2016-2019.  In 2018 Alison was appointed as the John T. Dunlop Design Critic in Architecture at Harvard GSD.  Since 2018 she has been Visiting Professor for the Masters in Collective Housing at ETSAM, Universidad Polite╠ücnica of Madrid. Alison is currently the Gensler Visiting Critic at Cornell’s AAP School and was awarded the Bethune Award by the University at Buffalo. Alison lectures internationally on architecture and urban design and serves on numerous international design competition juries.

In 2014 Alison was awarded an Alumni Achievement Award by the University of Waterloo, followed by a 2016 Doctorate of Engineering (Hon Causa).


2022 RIBA South Building of the Year Cohen Quad Exeter College

2021 RIBA House of the Year Windward House

2021 RIBA National Award Windward House

2021 HDA Building with Nature Knight’s Park

2020 BHA Sustainable Development of the Year Knight’s Park

2020 Architect of the Year Dezeen

2020 Housing Architect of the Year BD/AYA

MSA Dinner 2022 Highlights

A night to remember as the MSA Dinner makes it return

The MSA Dinner has been a main-stay on the architectural calendar for decades, however, due to the events over the course of the pandemic, it’s not been held since 2019. It was great to finally bring the dinner back to the architectural community of Manchester – a chance to get together, to celebrate the successes over the past year, and ultimately – to party. And the attendees did just that!

Held for the first time at Victoria Warehouse, the venue is made up of two storage warehouses that were used during the early to mid 20th century. It was redeveloped as a music and event space in 2012 and given its current name in 2018. The MSA dinner took over ‘The Bays’ – a space made up of an adjoining bar and dinner / dancing space, built in 1932 for cotton stock, and later storage for Kellogg’s, McVitie’s and Cadbury’s; the Bay’s rich history and interesting architecture made them ideal space for our society dinner.

The event had something for everyone – delicious food, a quality bar service, music from the incredible ‘Mr Wilson’s Second Liners’, a DJ, dancing, Photo Booth and even a dedicated caricaturist who was on hand all night to turn Manchester’s most notable architects into cartoon versions of themselves.

The night was a complete sell-out and we hope to see the dinner returning to it’s right place as a mainstay on the architectural calendar for years to come.

Finally – we couldn’t put on events of that scale and quality without the support of our amazing sponsors. A huge thank you to – AluK, Wienerberger, Beplas, Project Four, Komastyle, Bench Master, QPSL, Solus Ceramics and of course the RIBA North West!

Browse the highlights

Are Architects made under pressure? - An Open Discussion about resilience

Are Architects made under pressure?

Do Architecture schools prepare you for the real world? We invite you to an open discussion about resilience and Architecture across all stages of your career.
The Manchester Society of Architects (MSA) have collaborated with the MSADU and MSA&U to facilitate this well needed discourse that will promote awareness of the need to prioritise mental health and wellbeing in architectural education and practice.

Time: 5.30pm
Location: 403 Benzie Building
Tickets are not required for this event

New Sponsor - Solus

Manchester Society of Architects is pleased to announce a new sponsorship partnership with Solus Ceramics.

“As new sponsors of the Manchester Society of Architects, Solus Ceramics will engage productively and to mutual benefit with the Architecture and Design community of Manchester.  

As well as supplying high quality ceramic, porcelain and stone materials, Solus offers RIBA-accredited CPDs, PTV Slip resistance testing, EPD and sustainability documents along with specification writing services. We advocate for sustainable building practices and work with manufacturers who take social and environmental responsibilities seriously. Our team will provide you with support at every stage; from design, to delivery, to installation, to aftercare. We want to become Manchester’s preferred supplier and we believe we have the quality of service this great city demands. 

We look forward to supporting the MSA and its members with Solus Sessions, our productive-learning and idea-sharing events. Artists, artisans, and designers have created a menu of guided experiences that you can enjoy as an individual or with your teams. Watch this space for more information.”

Mark Atherton, Head of Regional Sales at Solus Ceramics


QPSL - festival summary

Beer, food, music and CPD – The perfect learning environment!

QPSL - festival summary

Quantum Profile Systems Ltd hosted its first ever Building Product Specification Afternoon and Beer Festival on Thursday 14th July 2022, in proud partnership with Manchester Society of Architects.

The event was a great success, with a wide range of building product manufacturers offering their expertise via an exhibition and in 6 micro-CPD sessions. All Architects and Specifiers in attendance were also welcomed to an RIBA accredited tour of the QPSL factory, showcasing Lean manufacturing in action.

After the CPDs and factory tours throughout the afternoon, those in attendance were invited to stay at the QPSL site for food, drink and live music in the evening. There were a wide range of craft beers on offer, along with wines and spirits, and fantastic food including beef brisket and pulled pork.

“It was the perfect combination of food, fun and learning, our members thoroughly enjoyed the relaxed atmosphere” Rob McGinnes President, Manchester Society of Architects.

QPSL and MSA would like to thank all those who came to the event, we hope everybody enjoyed themselves as much as we did! Many thanks also to the manufacturers who shared their expert knowledge on the day:

1. Quantum Flooring – Stair Nosings, Entrance Matting & Flooring Accessories
2. Dacatie – Cavity Closers & Fire Barriers
3. Altro – Floorcoverings
4. Teknos – Paints & Coatings
5. Uzin Utz – Adhesives & Screeds
6. Contract Flooring Association – Flooring Trade body
7. British Woodworking Federation – Timber Industry Trade body
8. SpecifiedBy – Specification Directory
9. Tarkett – Floorcoverings
10. West-Port – Timber Windows & Doors
11. PDS – Doorsets & Fire Doors
12. Xtratherm – Insulation & Enveloping Solutions
13. Forbo – Floorcoverings
14. OH Industri – Door Panels and Door Blanks

MSA Awards 2022 Highlights

450 architects and construction professionals came together celebrate the achievements of Manchester’s Architects at the annual MSA Awards.

After a refreshed changed of venue, the awards evening returned to its normal slot in June. We had a sell out crowd of 450 in attendance and showcased some amazing projects from across Manchester’s architectural scene. The winners thoroughly deserved the awards and we hope that the respective teams had chance to celebrate the win and enjoy their success on the evening. The event would not be possible without the hard work of a small group of volunteers that go above and beyond to support the society, week in, week out.


The awards were judged by Kees Kaan.

Kees Kaan is an architect and co-founder of Rotterdam-based practice KAAN Architecten. Since 2006, he is also the Chair of the Complex Projects department at the Faculty of Architecture at TU Delft. In 2019 Kaan was appointed Chairman of the Architecture Department. Moreover, he has been a Principal Investigator at Amsterdam Institute for Advanced Metropolitan Solutions (AMS) since 2016. Over the years, Kaan has built up a national and international portfolio of projects, including the Supreme Court and the Netherlands Forensic Institute in The Hague, Amsterdam Courthouse, Institut des Sciences Moléculaire d’Orsay, Royal Museum of Fine Arts in Antwerp, and the Dutch Embassy in Mozambique. Kees Kaan is an international lecturer and sits on several juries and boards, both in the Netherlands and abroad.

Kees certainly had his work cut out choosing the shortlist and winners for each category. View the winner sand judges comments.

A huge thank you should go to all the entrants for their efforts, to those shortlisted who were all of the highest quality and of course, congratulations to the worthy winners.

Finally – we couldn’t put on events of that scale and quality without the support of our amazing sponsors. A huge thank you to – AluK, Wienerberger, Beplas, Project Four, Komastyle, Bench Master, QPSL and of course the RIBA North West!

Browse the highlights

Rob McGinnes

New Year Message from the President

Rob McGinnes

Dear Colleagues and Friends.

A New Year beckons, so it is a great time to share our vision for your Society and upcoming activities for 2022.

The past two years have been tumultuous and difficult, causing a decrease in face-to-face events, but we were delighted at the enthusiasm and high attendance for the Awards, lectures and Barbecue and we really appreciate your support. We know there is a desire for friends and colleagues to meet, share stories and enjoy each other’s company and we intend to fulfil that desire wherever possible, be it digitally or physically.

We will be focusing on creating more and better activities that our members can enjoy. In fact, our theme for 2022 is all about growth.

Growth in membership, growth in engagement with our members, growth in the range and variety of activities that we offer, growth in celebration of our members’ achievements as individuals and practices. Growth in knowledge to meet the challenges that face our profession in times to come. Growth in inspiring lectures by leaders in their fields and emerging stars, coupled with hands-on experience for our members joining the profession.

And last but not least, growth in fun and enjoyment.

Our mission is:

‘To champion and nurture the present and future architects of Manchester’


To help us achieve this goal, we need:

Enthusiastic and engaged members of our council – if you have a passion to get involved and help our members, join us.

Members who are willing to share with people who don’t know our work. Help spread the word. 

Ideas to improve our work and activity, tell us the kind of things you’d like to see.

Help us by supporting our sponsors – host a practice CPD or check out the useful content on our Knowledge Hub.

Please get in touch with us and help us to help you!



Happy New Year! And watch this space for further exciting news!


Rob McGinnes,
MSA President & Founder of  Hive Architects

CPD presentation

MSA CPD // Assent Building Control

An essential CPD looking at the 2020 revisions to Approved Document B and the forthcoming regulatory reforms announced by government in May 2020 brought to you by Assent Building Control.


Building Equality's Spill the Tea @ 15:00


Knowledge Share and Collaboration – Advancing Gender Diversity Advocacy

Building Equality are proud to launch their online, nationwide Knowledge Share and Collaboration series.

Our first ever event, hosted by our Greater Manchester committee, will celebrate and raise awareness of our transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming community.

‘Advancing Gender Diversity Advocacy’ – Wednesday 29 April, 15.00 – 16.00 – to join on the day please click here.

At this event, we will recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of the many incredible transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming role models within our industry.

Gender diversity awareness, visibility and advocacy has never been more important. We have seen positives strides in recent years, through laws and legislations and an increasing number of positive role models and allies. However, statistics show us that there is still progress to be made and our transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming community are disproportionally affected by discrimination, prejudice and violence.

We invite Jake Stothard (Building Equality Greater Manchester Co-Chair and Digital Engineer, Arup) and Michelle Shepherd (Building Equality Sheffield Co-Chair and Civil Engineer, Mott MacDonald) to explore gender diversity awareness and inclusion every day and to share stories and experiences to educate on how we can better advance advocacy around the issues that most affect our transgender, non-bonary and gender non-conforming community.

The event is open to all, LGBT+ and allies, Building Equality members and otherwise.

Building equality

Building Equality's 5th Birthday Bash

Building equality

Could you be crowned our birthday baker? And help us celebrate our 5th birthday in style!

We need you! The good, the bad and the at least you tried… bake it, make it or fake it if you have too!

There are five simple rules:

1. Set your timer, time management is key – you’ve got 60 minutes, cheat if you have too no-ones watching.
2. Bake, make, create, decorate your birthday cake – surprise us, think big, colourful and unorthodox, we’re not going to eat it.
3. Snap your masterpiece in all its ‘Nailed It’ comparison glory.
4. Post your entry on Twitter between Mon 27 and Thurs 30 April or alternatively send us your entry at the link below.
5. Don’t forget to @BuildingEqLGBT and #BuildingEqualityBirthdayBash – piece of cake!


Avoid soggy bottoms and present beautifully decorated tops. Grease up, grab your jugs and give it a good go. Bakers pre-heat your ovens… and may the best baker win!


All entries cost a suggested donation of £5, all proceeds donated to The Proud Trust here.

To enter, please get in touch.