Manchester City Council is inviting expressions of interest from urban design and landscape teams to transform the 10-acre site, with an estimated construction budget of around £25m.
The move follows on from the Council’s announcement in the summer that it intended to hold a competition and marks the formal start of the process.
The area covered also includes Mosley Street, Parker Street, the section of Portland Street which runs alongside Piccadilly Gardens and the section of Piccadilly which borders the Gardens.
Its prominent gateway location means that it serves a unique range of functions including as a major route through the city centre, a transport interchange, a space for markets and events, a meeting place and a green space to spend time.
The competition design brief has been shaped by views sought from Manchester, people and businesses in a conversation earlier this year which more than 1,700 took part in.
It envisages that Piccadilly will be a special place with a strong sense of identity, welcoming and uniquely Mancunian and allowing for the flexible hosting of events: A place for all, incorporating space where children can play, and that full access and inclusivity will be integral to the design process.
The brief recognises that it is important to the people of Manchester to retain a green space in the centre of the city. It calls for planting to encourage biodiversity and improve air quality in line with the Council’s wider environmental goals, while recognising that this may need to be rationalised to provide a flexible space which tens of thousands of people walk through every day.
It is also essential that the design promotes safety and is well lit with clear sightlines.
There is a longer term aspiration to relocate existing Parker Street bus services if improved alternatives can be found.
The design will need to retain the existing listed monuments and statues, and tramlines and infrastructure as well as the existing Pavilion structure.
Sir Richard Leese, Leader of Manchester City Council, said:
“Our clear ambition is for the Piccadilly area to be an outstanding public open space – a place that people are talking about for all the right reasons.
“It has huge potential to be a welcoming, flexible space which makes a positive contribution to the life of Manchester.
“The opening of this international design competition is a significant step towards this aspiration. We look forward to hearing from some brilliant designers and, once the winner has been chosen, seeking further views from the public.”