Friday, January 8, 1999 Published at 14:08 GMT
New Manchester virtually complete
Manchester city centre: "It's going to be very different"
The new Manchester city centre is to go on display in a virtual reality exhibition on Saturday - two-and-a-half years after the area was destroyed by the biggest IRA bomb denotated on the British mainland.
But interest in the new centre has been such that the company responsible for the rebuilding work, the Manchester Millennium Task Force, has created a series of virtual tours to elicit "suggestions and comments" from the public.
According to Chief Executive Howard Bernstein, the "new dynamic framework" for the heart of Manchester will be a more diverse mixture of retail premises, entertainment complexes and pedestrianised public spaces, with the emphasis on promoting "a sense of safety".
"It's going to be very different," he said.
The exhibition boasts computer-generated "fly-throughs" of the new Corn Exchange, the new Exchange Square and the centrepiece of Manchester's rebuilt shopping area - the biggest Marks and Spencer store in the world.
In addition, there are photographic exhibits and a massive model of the area under reconstruction.
The last of the demolition work on the old Manchester city centre will be finished this year, with Exchange Square, Cathedral Street, the Corn Exchange and Marks and Spencer open by November 1999.
The Royal Exchange has already opened, while the enormous Printworks Entertainment Centre is slated to be open to the public by early 2000.
The Urbis exhibition - an impressive glass-and-chrome building housing a completely interactive history of Manchester and cities in general - will be completed by the end of next year.
The free exhibition opens on Saturday on the ground floor of Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square, Manchester. For enquiries call 0161 237 9666.