Back in the Spring of 2007, the first digger arrived on site followed by more and more heavy construction hardware and materials with each passing day. The site is called MediaCityUK and is based in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester. For Phase 1, it will be home to the University of Salford, BBC North and other media companies in 2011 and will be followed by subsequent phases on the 200 acre site. Needless to say, it seemed like a good idea in May 2007 (one month before the exciting Peel MediaCityUK project) to start an online photographic timeline journal of the entire development.
Nearly 3.5 years on, a year before the doors open on Phase 1, I have catalogued 15,500+ pictures by financial quarter, month and day. The timeline journal is updated weekly to provide all interested parties (both visitors and those involved in the construction) with a snapshot status of the MediaCityUK development project.
The problem I had was getting close to the large scale development in the quays, that is ‘to be intimate without being intrusive’. Time then to test a modern compact camera with a good optical zoom and image stabilisation. The answer, the Panasonic DMC-TZ7 (now TZ10) with Leica DC Lens, 12x optical zoom, wide angle 25mm lens and 10.1 megapixels (I used the TZ5 predecessor before this). The TZ7 packs a lot of power in a small case and consistently delivers great pictures and for this particular project, I chose the intelligent mode option on the dial for most shots.
I have 3 main vantage points to shoot from. The iconic Lowry Centre (and Designer Outlet) at the centre of the quays, the Imperial War Museum North (IWMN) observation tower (the 30 metre Air Shard viewing platform ) and the back of the development site, a road called Broadway which runs the length of Salford Quays (about a mile long).
I actually work as an IT Manager about 500 yards from the site and have been based in Salford Quays for nearly 15 years. Each time I pop over for a coffee (too many coffees for sure), I wield the Panasonic TZ7 (easy to pocket) and put it to work by walking a circuit around MediaCityUK. Most of the site, like the rest of Salford Quays is bounded by water and provides a picturesque backdrop to the diverse and ever increasing disparate architecture of the once flat terrain.
When I took up residence in the quays back in the mid-nineties (August 1995), there were very few landmarks to navigate by. MediaCityUK provides yet another attractive and modern set of buildings to the current eye-catching mix. The BBC North main building provides a full glass façade to reflect the iconic buildings that surround it, and is itself reflected in the water.
Hundreds of new media jobs are being created as part of the first phase opening of the site and to make access to MediaCityUK easier, a new pedestrian bridge is being built to accompany the current Millennium Bridge which crosses over from the Lowry Centre to the Old Trafford side, close to the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ Manchester United football ground.
I would never describe myself as a professional photographer, just an enthusiastic amateur (with a vision and some serious time investment of course) who has fully embraced the digital age of compact cameras (my first in 2000). As you will see from the online photographic timeline, I have been able to get close to every stage of the MediaCityUK build with good clarity as a result of the on-board TZ7 image stabilisation (zooming between 3 and 50 times), not bad from 350 yards distance on each side. This even includes the stage by stage erection of the large cranes on the site, a great spectacle when viewed from the large viewfinder of the TZ7 (I no longer carry binoculars).
For anybody involved in the media or currently at university studying related disciplines including photography and photographic techniques, the MediaCityUK development represents an exciting prospect. I thought readers might like to see the extensive build less than 1 year off completion in 2011. Around 50% of the BBC staff (for the appropriate BBC departments) are moving from the south to Salford Quays leaving a lot of job roles to fill. This is aside of all the other media companies that will eventually settle at MediaCityUK.
My MediaCityUK Photographic Timeline is located at, www.mediacityuksalfordquays.net/mcuk.htm. This link will always redirect to the current month’s photographs rendered at 800 x 600 resolution so that the web pages load quickly. There is also a link to an abridged timeline of 300+ photographs resized to 1024 x 768 resolution. This shows the construction from the same point over nearly 3 years (excuse the Manchester clouds). Each page contains links to related articles and the official MediaCityUK website. Other related links can be accessed from the left margin of this web page.