Sunlight Building, Manchester, England
Photo by Hayley Flynn via The Guardian
From “An urbanist’s guide to Manchester,” a write-up of a Deco building in the heart of the city.
What’s the best building?
Nothing beats the simplicity of Art Deco Sunlight House on Quay Street. Designed by Joseph Sunlight and used as his offices, Sunlight was a fairly eccentric man, during his lunch breaks he would take over from the bellboy and operate the lifts. His name often crops up in newspaper archives, the letters section especially, where he chips in with his opinions on new building proposals. He usually offered more idealistic cultural alternatives such as a large gallery and museum instead of the modernist Piccadilly Plaza complex of offices and hotels that was eventually built.
When Sunlight died he was the biggest taxpayer in the city and had in his portfolio of work thousands upon thousands of council houses. It’s said that he requested to be buried in a mausoleum on the roof of the building but no such burial happened. Up there instead are a collection of small but perfectly formed Art Deco eagles perched on spikes and posing majestically. At one time higher than anywhere else in the city, Sunlight House heralded a new age, one where smog cloaked chimneys were a thing of the past, and bold new architecture was on the horizon.