The objective was to create an airport-like atmosphere and help regeneration of the local area, while resolving congestion on the approach ramp and station concourse, creating larger, better organised facilities improving access and interchange between transport modes.

The project required extensive consultation with English Heritage regarding the listed station buildings and with conservation and planning staff at Manchester City Council. The design process included analyses of embodied energy and a natural ventilation strategy. Materials were selected to be durable, easy to clean, and withstand usage by upwards of 20 million passengers per annum.

The station provides an excellent sense of place, with the city visible through the main entrance. Interchange with the city centre shuttle is directly outside the station entrance whilst taxi, tram and bus interchange is on a lower level. A new pedestrian bridge connects with new office developments around the station and creates a new legible connection to the city.

Spatial management within the central concourse is generally good. Retail amenities within the station are arranged around the perimeter of a central movement zone and on a mezzanine level, ensuring passenger movement needs are not compromised. However, decision points located within the central movement space have been observed to cause some obstruction to movement at peak hours.