Visit Millennium Square....
Visit Millennium Square. Millennium Square was Leeds' flagship project to mark the year 2000. The £12m project was funded by Leeds City Council and the Millennium Commission, turning what was the old Mandela Gardens and a nondescript car park into one of Europe's most impressive civic spaces and the city's first new public square in over 60 years.
Opened in December 2000, Millennium Square incorporates three squares within one - the main central square (the events arena), a linked space to the northeast and a new garden and fountain area to the south. The Square forms the heart of an emergent civic quarter, with cultural, leisure and residential components.
The 4,500m2 Square will play host to events throughout the year, linking in to the promotion of Leeds as shopping and leisure destination, adding much to the cultural life of the city. Events already planned include big name live music concerts, community events, international street theatre, commercial events and even an ice rink.
Much of what makes Millennium Square special is hidden away underground. Designed by Leeds City Architect John Thorp, Millennium Square has been built with equipment such as staging, lighting and lasers, public toilets, PA system, power supply and even dressing rooms included, making it the most technologically advanced outdoor events space in the world.
Millennium Square can accommodate events both large and small, of up to 7,000 people, making it the largest permanent events venue in the area.
Work commenced on site in November 1999 and was the biggest city centre construction project seen in Leeds since the Headrow was developed in the 1930s. When the adjoining commercial developments are complete in summer 2002, an estimated £27m will have been invested in and around Millennium Square.
Many of the impressive buildings that surround the site are also getting a new lease of life, following many years of dereliction and decay.
It is proposed that the Electric Press, a former printworks and Stansfield Chambers, a former carriage manufactory will, by summer 2002 become home to a vibrant mix of retaurants, cafés retail space and a 3-screen arthouse cinema set around an impressive glazed courtyard.
On the northern side of the Square the Broderick Café Terrace includes a Hobgoblin Café Bar, the fast growing chain's first North of England outlet. The café bar opened in April 2001 and features an impressive new alfresco eating and drinking space that overlooks the Square. Above the bar are two floors of luxury apartments.
Many of the impressive civic buildings that surround the Square have also been given a new look after dark with an integrated lighting scheme which enhances both the historic and new architecture.
Millennium Square, in addition to playing host to a vibrant and exciting programme of events, is also an oasis of calm in the heart of the city.
Landscaping includes 1,500 shrubs and over 80 trees, including 24 mobile planters, specially designed to be moved to accommodate events.
At the southern end of the Square a new garden and fountain area has been created to renew an original dedication to Nelson Mandela.
The new Mandela Gardens includes a cascading water feature and a 16ft high bronze sculpture by the internationally renowned Leeds-born sculptor Kenneth Armitage.
Further pieces of public art around Millennium Square include two pairs of Portland Stone obelisks upon which the famous Leeds art deco owls sit proudly overlooking the Square. A 15m high service tower will be clad with a sculpture conceived by sculptor Richard Wilson. The eliptical tower not only serves a practical purpose by providing a sound and lighting control facility at events, its 'rugby ball shape forms a distinctive and striking gateway feature to the Square.