Practice to reimagine International Slavery Museum and Maritime Museum on city’s waterfront


Liverpool’s Albert Dock

Adjaye Associates and Ralph Appelbaum Associates have been named as preferred bidders to lead a £57m redevelopment of two museums in Liverpool.

The two firms pipped Haworth Tompkins with JA Projects, Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and Heneghan Peng Architects with Droo Architects to win the redesign of the International Slavery Museum and the Maritime Museum for National Museums Liverpool (NML).

The scheme will see the exhibitions of the two neighbouring museums “elevated and their stories amplified”, according to NML.

A grade I-listed former warehouse now known as the Hartley Pavilion, which houses both museums, will be revamped to improve its circulation and to house new commercial space, retail and a temporary exhibition space.

The Dr Martin Luther King Jr Building, another grade I-listed building which formerly housed the Dock Traffic Office, will become a new entrance to the International Slavery Museum.

NML director Laura Pye said the pairing of the two teams will “create something truly groundbreaking”.

She said: “To be bringing two such visionary designers with international reputations to the project represents the bold ambition and thinking behind it. 

“There has never been a more important time to address the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade and the redevelopment of the International Slavery Museum symbolises our, and our region’s commitment to confronting the significant role the city played in British imperialism.”

Adjaye Associates founder David Adjaye said he was “deeply humbled” to lead the project, which he said will provide an opportunity to reposition the listed buildings “within the powerful context of Liverpool’s Waterfront and its relationship to the translate slave trade”.

Ralph Appelbaum Associates director Philip Tefft said the “critical and timely” project was among the most significant the practice had ever undertaken.

“Together, we will honour Liverpool’s Waterfront as a sacred ground – a place that reverberates with the sights, sounds and souls of all those connected to its global history,” he said.

The scheme, which is being supported by a £9.9m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is part of a 10-year masterplan to improve the area between Liverpool’s Royal Albert Dock and Mann Island.

Last year NML announced David Adjaye and Asif Khan had won a competition to design the transformation of the city’s historic Canning Dock. That project, also part of the 10-year vision, will aim to tell the story of the site’s links with the slave trade using a new public realm and public art strategy.