The Whitworth has been shortlisted for the UK’s most prestigious architecture prize, the RIBA Stirling Prize.

The news comes following its ambitious £15 million redevelopment of the 126 year-old Whitworth before reopening on 14 February, since when over 230,000 have visited the gallery, breaking all previous annual records.

The shortlisting acknowledges the work carried out by McInnes Usher McKnight Architects, the team behind the redevelopment which was supported by a major Heritage Lottery Fund grant, The University of Manchester, Arts Council England and other funders.

It is also a further nod to the gallery which received a national award from RIBA and won the RIBA NW Building of the Year award earlier this year and was also named 2015 Art Fund Prize Museum of the Year.

Maria Balshaw, Director of The Whitworth commented, “MUMA’s sensitive extension and restoration of our building unlocks our potential as a university art gallery in a park.  The collection and the knowledge held inside now connects to our local community of park users and the elegant, generous spaces for art are drawing people in from all over the world.  We are delighted to have the quality of MUMA’s architecture recognized by inclusion on the Stirling Prize shortlist.”

The Whitworth’s redevelopment has doubled public space and created state-of-the-art new facilities including expanded gallery spaces, a study centre, learning studio and a collections centre.

At the heart of MUMA’s major renovation project is the creation of an elegant glass, stainless steel and brick extension, which sees two wings extend into Whitworth Park from the back of the existing 19th century building, connecting the gallery to the surrounding park beyond. For the extension, MUMA developed a unique Whitworth blend of British brick and a brickwork pattern with a traditional textile slash work effect, inspired by the gallery’s extensive textile collection.

Extensive refurbishment of the existing gallery building has restored the volume of the three 19th century barrel-vault exhibition gallery ceilings enabling the display of major, large scale international shows. Visitors can now also gain access to the reinstated Grand Hall on the first floor through glorious Edwardian staircases returned to public use for the first time in over 50 years.

The Stirling Prize winner will be announced at a ceremony in London on 15 October 2015.

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