Top architectural practice HOK has been appointed to design the £200m conference and exhibition centre planned for the Gateshead Quays.
HOK – whose work includes the recently opened $1.3bn Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta and a new ice hockey arena for the Barcelona sporting club – has the go-ahead to draw up plans for a 12,500-seater arena that would be operated by SMG Europe and due to open in 2021. The new centre will replace SMG Europe’s existing Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle.
Paul Szomoru, head of business tourism at NewcastleGateshead Convention Bureau, told CN: “The appointment of Architects HOK is a brilliant step forward in the important development of Gateshead Quays. As a destination we’re excited about how these new facilities are going to allow us to fulfil our international ambitions to attract major business events here and raise the global profile and reputation of NewcastleGateshead and the North East of England.”
The new build is expected to create over a thousand new jobs.
HOK is one of three companies appointed by Gateshead Council and its development partners to draw up plans for the 10-acre site between the Sage Gateshead and the Baltic art centre.
Gateshead Council leader Martin Gannon said: “The appointment of the design team is a critical and landmark decision for this project. All three organisations have global reputations and that shows our commitment to bringing a world-class arena and conference and exhibition facilities to the North East.
“Gateshead Quays is already one of UK’s most iconic riverside locations. We’ve always been clear that a high quality design for this site is paramount and we’re now ever more confident that the new buildings and landscape for this site will further enhance Gateshead Quays skyline and reputation.”
Local officials have estimated the development can attract 300,000 visitors to Tyneside each year and add £29.5m to the regional economy.
Property developers Ask Real Estate and investment group Patrizia UK are also involved in drawing up the masterplan, in order that a planning application can be made next year. Alongside HOK, AHR Architects will also work on the design, while London-based Planit-ie, which has particular experience in designing outside spaces, has been selected as landscape architects.
Leon Guyett, development director of Ask Real Estate, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to announce these appointments.”
Daniel Williams, UK head of development at Patrizia, added: “All three organisations were selected as they all have a fantastic reputation for designing major new centres. These new facilities will certainly confirm Gateshead Quays as one of Europe’s key cultural locations.”