Construction is set to start this month for completion in 2014.
The structure will incorporate three existing viaduct arches that will house the venue’s education rooms. There will also be a 500-seat theatre, a studio, a gallery and a five-screen cinema.
The project forms part of an £80m programme at First Street North, which will also see a new hotel, multi-storey car park and restaurant area built around a new public square.
Wates was awarded the work through the North West Construction Hub following its appointment to both the medium and high value Hub frameworks in 2010.