30 July 2012

Author Joan Burnett

"The building was designed by architects Austin-Smith: Lord and opened in February 2003.  It quickly surpassed all projections for visitor figures and has gone from being the new baby on the block to a treasured part of Liverpool's urban scene. The building's location was chosen very carefully to give the Ropewalks area of the city focus, driving the development of a quarter which is home to many creative businesses. It's the perfect mix of community involvement and elegant "high tech" to bring in an incredibly diverse footfall to the area.

I love the building for the honesty of its materials - the ethos is that the building is almost a blank canvas to which people and art bring colour. I admire the texture of the poured concrete in particular - it has aged beautifully over the last ten years to create a calm backdrop to our ever-changing programme. The patterns that have emerged in its surface are a thing of beauty in themselves. I also have total regard for the oxidised steel panels over the ticket office - their autumnal shades of rust and red ochre are a warm counterpoint to the other starker materials.

The building is evolving as some original features have changed or given way to new ones. This is very important in a  working building that has 1000 people a day passing through - it can't stay preserved as if in a bell-jar.

All the changes are about bringing more art into the public spaces, with examples being the large rig that now hangs in the atrium, which can take three quarters of a tonne weight of artwork and the newly opened up space at the front of the building; still in development, this space gives us far more room to let the public let rip with their creative talents and spotlight our community programmes. The patio garden on the FACT roof has been created by tenantspin participants, bringing us a much needed green element and some lovely homegrown strawberries!

For me as the Visitor Services Manager, the building's standout quality is its ability to "hide away" people in the cinemas and galleries - we can be full to bursting, and yet our beautiful space keeps its peaceful equilibrium. We often get visitor comments about the quality of peace and light in the buliding - they love it when they visit, and I love it as an inspiring place in which to work."

We've added some of our favourite images of the FACT building, plus some of the construction pf the FACT building in the related media section of this page. We'd love to hear what yoiur favourites elements of the FACT building are. Let us know in the comments section below!