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Modern Times: 1950s to The Present Day

Buildings and Cityscape

Commercial Buildings

By Charles McKean

The Bruce Report 1945 Immediately after the Second World War, Glasgow's grey, golden and red stone buildings were blackened by soot and its city fathers were ashamed of them. In 1947 the city engineer, Robert Bruce, proposed the demolition of almost everything save the City Chambers and the Cathedral and this iconoclastic attitude persisted. The city centre was zoned for commercial development at a 3:1 plot ratio, meaning that you could build a high block on one corner, like the fifteen storeyed St Andrew House by Arthur Swift & Partners (1964), or the twelve storeyed Heron House, Bothwell Street (1967) by Derek Stephenson & Partners. R Seifert & Partners designed the pre-cast concrete panelled Anderston Shopping Centre (1967) just a few hundred yards too far west of the city centre to prosper economically.

Buchanan Galleries The growth of conservation required that buildings maintain the scale of the street and take some of their character from their neighbours. Thus in the 1970s, glazed, often reflective glass office blocks were pioneered by the crisp verticalities of King Main & Ellison's Scottish Amicable, St Vincent Street (1972) and followed less successfully by the bulging profile of G D Lodge's Clydesdale Bank (1980), and Coats Vyella, St Vincent Street (1984) by SBT Architects.

Princes Square In the 1980s-1990s offices and shops would be masked by post-modern facades paid for with a stone grant: for example, Alhambra House, Bothwell Street (1997) by G D Lodge, Wheatley House, Cochrane Street (1996) by CZWG, and Buchanan Galleries (1998) by Jenkins & Marr. There was a choice: either redevelop behind an existing facade – as David Hamilton's Western Club, or, most sumptuously, John Baird's Princes Square, converted by Hugh Martin (1987); or move to a constraint-free part of the city. Occasionally a behemoth - like Murray Dunlop's Bewley's Hotel (2000) - would disturb the rhythm of Bath Street. But the district between Cowcaddens and the motorway became increasingly developed for offices – notably Challenge House, Canal Street (1995) by McNeish Design. Here or down in Blythswood Holm, the brash, exciting soulnessness of downtown America is emerging once again.

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