Make Architects has been replaced by Hodder + Partners on a £200m ($250m) high-rise scheme in Manchester backed by former international footballers Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs.
The practice, which was founded by Ken Shuttleworth, the designer of the London Gherkin, announced that it would leave the project despite being involved with it for the past 10 years.
Shuttleworth said: "We’ve been totally committed to the evolution of the scheme and have continued to work on revised proposals, but we feel that the current direction does not align with our ambition for the site and it is right to step aside.
"St Michael’s is an important project for Manchester and we wish Gary Neville and his team every success in bringing it to fruition."
The scheme was originally conceived by Neville as a mixed-use regeneration project, intended to transform the area next to Manchester’s town hall. It consisted of two bronze clad towers, one 31 storeys and the other 21.
The scheme attracted widespread criticism for the size of these elements, which objectors such as Historic England claimed would overshadow the town hall and the Central Library.
Neville acknowledge that the design could be improved and in March he announced that he was postponing his application for planning permission.
The towers will also have a market area (St Michael’s)
He said in a speech at that time: "We don’t get everything right. The reason that we’ve not determined the planning application at this moment in time is because there are some design refinements that need to be made.
"The junction with Bootle Street and Southmill Street is not good enough. I’ll say that openly, I’ll be frank about it, I’ll say it with the architect in the room. I’ll take responsibility for it because it’s my development, it’s my vision. It’s not good enough."
He added: "There are things we have to do that will make that scheme better but the principles, the fundamentals – the scale, the height – we believe in."
Hodder + Partners was already involved in the project, having been brought into review the scheme following the criticism.
A joint statement issued by Neville’s Jackson’s Row Developments, developer Rowsley, Beijing Construction and Engineering Group and Manchester council said that Hodder’s involvement had led the team "to a different philosophy" that it was hoped would "command a greater level of support".
The statement said: "Stephen Hodder and his team were brought in three months ago to contribute design ideas. They are now focused on submitting revised proposals for a successful mixed-use development at St. Michael’s."
Top image: The twin towers of St Michael’s (Make Architects)