Glasgow School of Art and University of Strathclyde to join John McAslan in George Square revamp

The Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde and the Mackintosh School of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art are collaborating with John McAslan + Partners for the George Square and surrounding Avenues design contract.

Glasgow School of Art and University of Strathclyde to join John McAslan in George Square revamp

Recently appointed by Glasgow City Council as architects for a major public realm scheme focused on George Square, John McAslan + Partners will team up with both departments through a range of socially and environmentally-led educational initiatives that will embed both students and staff in the design process.

The commission is for Block C of the council’s Avenues Programme - funded by the Glasgow City Region City Deal - comprising George Square and approximately 2.5km of the surrounding streetscape.

First laid out in 1781, named after King George III and developed in earnest 20 years later, George Square is Glasgow’s principal civic, ceremonial and cultural space, featuring several of the city’s best-known landmark buildings. On its east side is the Beaux-Arts style City Chambers (1889) - headquarters to Glasgow City Council since 1996 - designed by William Young.

On the corner of the square with West George Street, the Merchant’s House (1874/1909), designed by John Burnet and extended upwards by his son JJ Burnet, is crowned with a dome bearing a ship symbolising Glasgow’s historic role as one of the great global trading cities. At the heart of George Square, a tall Doric column (1837) bears a statue by John Greenshields of the renowned Scottish Romantic era novelist and poet, Sir Walter Scott.

John McAslan + Partners has been commissioned to reconsider the synergy and balance between George Square and the surrounding streets in relation to contemporary life. This involves clarifying the architectural and spatial qualities of the Square and its relationship to the surrounding urban context. The scope of the improvements will include George Street and St Vincent Street as well as John street and Dundas Street.

The scheme is part of the wider £115 million Avenues initiative aimed at improving pedestrian connectivity and priority throughout the city, amid new tree planting, rain gardens, cycleways and improved public transport.  Sustainability and community are at the heart of the brief with the aim of substantially enhancing the urban environment and opportunities for residents and visitors.

Councillor Susan Aitken, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The redesign of George Square and the creation of Avenues and other new public realm on neighbouring streets is a crucial part of the regeneration of the city centre. It is so important as not only will the redesign play a crucial role in the transformation of what is undoubtedly Glasgow’s foremost civic space, but it is also a symbol of our vision for the city centre - a place that will be far more attractive to Glaswegians and our visitors, and somewhere that illustrates the economic, environmental and social gains to be made from this project.”

Andy Harris, leader of John McAslan + Partners’ landscape team, said: “Located precisely at the point where the original Georgian urban grid meets its Victorian extension, George Square has for centuries been a natural centre of gravity for Glaswegians who come to celebrate, play, relax, meet and when necessary protest. We are thrilled to help deliver the next phase of its evolution as Glasgow’s most important civic space.”

Construction work for Block C (George Square and surrounding streets) will commence in the Summer of 2023.

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