After fending off Rafael Viñoly, Zaha Hadid, Nicholas Grimshaw, Haworth Tompkins Limited and compatriots Mecanoo, OMA's design for "The Factory" will become Manchester's new art house. Lead by Rem Koolhaas, The Factory will be in the British city's center and is touted to cost $166 million with a further $13.5 million-a-year to run. Funding will not be an issue for Koolhaas' building as U.K. Chancellor George Osborne has pledged $117.5 million to the project with the view that The Factory will become the "Northern Powerhouse" showpiece. The project's name supposedly comes from the home-grown Factory Records, an indie record label launched in 1978 that produced notable bands such as Joy Division and Happy Mondays. Koolhaas has designed what essentially is an art-box that will host a wide range of artistic events in Manchester, with an aim for the facility to become the cultural focal point of the region. The venue is dedicated to theatre, music, dance, technology, film, TV, and scientific advancements and will have a combined capacity of 7,200—2,200 seated and 5,000 standing. This will be OMA's first major public development on British soil, aside from a few minor forays into London, Glasgow, and the south coast. “The importance of the Factory cannot be overstated," Manchester council leader, Sir Richard Leese, told the Guardian. "It will be of international significance, the cultural anchor for the next phase of economic and cultural regeneration in Manchester, Greater Manchester and beyond. It will help power Manchester and the wider region towards becoming a genuine cultural and economic counterbalance to London, as well as being a place where inspirational art is created.” Koolhaas' project in Manchester is set to break ground next year with the aim to finish by 2019. According to the Guardian, "Those behind the project have predicted that within a decade it will help create the equivalent of 2,500 jobs adding nearly $211 million to the local economy."
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Crain’s Chicago Business asks a good question: “Is it finally a good time to be an architect?” The story, by Micah Maidenberg, picks up on an encouraging trend in the architecture billings index. Both nationally and in the Midwest, architecture billings are back above 50, the threshold that denotes growth. In 2008, both tanked to about 35. During that time the number of architects in Chicago also dropped 33 percent, from 9,800 to 6,600 at the lowest point in March 2011. That's slightly higher than the 31 percent drop nationally. It has since risen above 7,000. Average base pay for starting architects, however, has mirrored another, less encouraging national trend: wage stagnation. Entry-level architects in metro Chicago made 3.7 percent less in 2011 than in 2008. Experienced architects saw their salaries rise 9 percent on average over that time period.