Stimulated by mercantile prosperity, Glasgow grew in planned expansions west, east and across the Clyde to the south. At the same time the city acquired some impressive public buildings. Three architects made significant contributions to this urban distinction, though their legacy is today much diminished.
Robert and James Adam enhanced the already classical cast of the city's architecture. Their Assembly Rooms on Ingram Street (1792-96 with wings by Henry Holland, 1807) had a majestic piano nobile of coupled Ionic columns carrying a hefty entablature over a street storey, rusticated and arcaded. This centrepiece survived demolition c.1890, as a monumental portal, the McLennan Arch, re-sited on Glasgow Green. The Infirmary, begun 1792, demolished c.1901, was of comparable dignity. At its centre, on a two-storey rusticated base, was an advancing aedicule of coupled columns behind which rose a ribbed dome. Flanking this, the facade extended to projecting wings with giant Venetian windows.
William Stark has been scarcely less unfortunate. His Lunatic Asylum (1809), probably the first hospital in Britain to adopt the star plan – four arms extended from a central circular drum carrying an inner octagon and glazed dome – has gone. The Justiciary Courts on Saltmarket (1809-14, extensively reconstructed 1845 and 1910-13) remain to display Stark's neo-Greek affiliation. The portico is stoutly Doric, a six-bay temple reminiscent of the Theseion in Athens.
David Hamilton later drew on both Greek and Roman sources for the Royal Exchange (1827-32), now the Gallery of Modern Art. Absorbing the Cuninghame Mansion of 1778-80 in a pilastered casing, he added a high pedimented portico at the front and, at the rear, a lofty columned newsroom. Above and behind the portico rose a tempietto tower distantly Greek. The nave-and-aisles newsroom with its fluted columns and sumptuous coffered ceiling with ornamental panels is "Glasgow's most magnificent early nineteenth century interior".
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