Despite the ironic benefits stimulated by two World Wars, Glasgow's heavy industries were no longer inviolate. Severely hit first by the Depression and later by cheaper foreign production, the city began its slide into recession. Of civic architecture there was little – extensions to the City Chambers (1913-23) by Watson, Salmond & Gray have a French Renaissance grandeur, splendid but already anachronistic. However the volume and quality of city centre building fell far below that of the Victorian and Edwardian periods.
If the hard-edged polemical lines of the International Style were all but absent, more modish forms did make an appearance. This was especially true in the new field of cinema architecture where the spectrum of design offered to the public varied from the Mayan, as at the Paramount (now Odeon) (1934), State (1937), and Ascot (1939), to the Spanish-American at the Boulevard (1928), Kingsway (1929), and Toledo (1933). Most exotic was the Moorish mosque-like Salon of 1913; and most elegantly Art Deco was the brick restraint of the Cosmo (now Glasgow Film Centre) (1939). A few shop fronts also followed Thirties' fashion, none finer than the surviving Rogano restaurant (1935-36).
But the most concentrated expression of Art Deco was reserved for those buildings, almost all temporary in nature, constructed for the Empire Exhibition of 1938. Held in Bellahouston Park, the show presented to the world a Scotland still imperial but progressive too. It brought together a group of the country's most adventurous architects, among them Basil Spence, Jack Coia and Thomas Tait, whose buildings, derivative of mainstrean European Modernism, dared to display what might have been. No single building captured the symbolism of this event more potently than the dramatic hilltop shaft of Tait's Tower.
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