The federation formed by four Manchester business schools three years ago is soon to be embodied in a £7-million building built to house one of the partners.
The facility is in the city centre at the intersection of Oxford Road and Upper Brooke Street. Linked with the buildings of the other three by a bridge across the road separating them, it will house the Manchester School of Management, the biggest department of the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology.
The other partners, Manchester Business School, the School of Accountancy and Finance, and PREST (Policy Research in Engineering, Science and Technology) are all constituent parts of Manchester University.
Together they call themselves the Manchester Federal School of Business and Management. It is not a marriage, they insist, nor even an engagement, though they could grow closer together over the years. But it does mean they have to snuggle up closer physically: the walk from UMIST to the Manchester University buildings takes 15 to 20 minutes.
"In resource terms we stay in UMIST and the other three institutions stay in Manchester University," says Ivan Robertson, head of the UMIST School of Management. "Students will be either UMIST students or Manchester University students. But we will share facilities including libraries and lecture theatres."
London architects ORMS, who won the 1994 competition to design the new building, wanted to "combine memorable, distinctive architecture, and a feeling of intimacy in the interior of the building, with the right master planning for the site. This optimistic modern building of glass and steel will be at the centre of a three-square-mile academic community used by some 50,000 people, so our design includes a plaza which will provide a new focus for the university in its urban setting."
The building will house 175 staff and 900 full-time students, out of the Federal School's total of 250 staff and 2,500 students.
A central top-lit arcade links lecture theatres and seminar rooms on the lower floors, with research offices near the top. There will be a substantial tree-enclosed garden, and a large atrium in the middle of the building.
The building is part of UMIST's millennium project, which has attracted private-sector funding. One of the biggest benefactors, Sir David Alliance, chairman of Coates Viyella, will have a room named after him.
The top end of the stiff competition for the most lucrative and prestigious international business education trade is likely to be between London Business School, Manchester, and the Warwick Business School.
This may be the reason LBS is also ploughing £20 million into prestige building. By the turn of the century LBS expects to have some splendid new up-market facilities to appeal to busy and well-heeled business executives.
The main development is in Taunton Place, 50 metres from LBS's splendid Regency building overlooking Regent's Park. There LBS is building a new library and a fully equipped health and fitness centre with a 25-metre swimming pool, as well as bedrooms and offices. The new library will be as concerned with electronic information as with books, and integrated with LBS's computer teaching unit.
The building has been designed by the Westwood Partnership, which has been associated with LBS since 1966, when it redesigned and refitted the original building.
There is also to be a new teaching unit at Sussex Place. The original Sussex Place building, one of London's finest Regency houses, will be carefully restored, with all its original fireplaces, as a luxury small-scale conference facility.
Bedrooms will be, as LBS puts it, "upgraded to a standard appropriate for senior managers participating in high-level executive education programmes" with computers, faxes and modems, and Internet access.