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George Square shortlist revealed

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January 9 2013

George Square shortlist revealed
Six shortlisted designs in an international design competition to redevelop George Square have been revealed ahead of an announcement of the winner on 18 January.

The six shortlisted teams are John McAslan, Gustafson porter, JM Architects, James Corner Field Operations, Burns + Nice and Agence Ter.

A judging panel comprising of David Mackay, MBM Architects Barcelona and Professor Andy McMillan, former head of Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art are currently deliberating over which scheme should go forward for the £15m prize.

Cllr Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "The calibre of the six designs is very high and I'm sure whichever design team is chosen, Glaswegians will have a George Square to be proud of again.

"Each bidder has a wealth of international experience and all six have delivered a number of eye-catching civic spaces acclaimed by their peers and public alike.

"This redevelopment is a hugely exciting moment in the growth of the city as Glasgow strives to forge ahead and meet its future challenges."

The shortlisted work is currently on display at The Lighthouse.
Entry 2
Entry 2
Entry 3
Entry 3

Entry 4
Entry 4
Entry 5
Entry 5

Entry 6
Entry 6


#1 Posted by Grumbleweed on 9 Jan 2013 at 09:41 AM
Judging solely on these single images:
1 Presumably the statues on one side are watching the mushrooms growing on the other… from the mud left after the city lake fills with crisp bags and gets drained.
2 Very simple with articulated paving and benches, trees to the perimeter and simple planting and lighting, with enough space for city functions. Scott rightly still in the middle. Not very exciting but does it need to be..
3 ..because we suffer from lack of water in the air in Glasgow? Canopy/cafe on the dark side of the square and all the statues to the sunny side?
4 …because we need the Kingston bridge to shelter the statues watching the ice skaters..
5 Ahem, lovin the tartan and deconstructed highland river and statue park – where’s the shortbread flora….. really! tartan!
6 I guess it’s ok to ignore the brief and just make some pretty patterns on the page – lets all take a diagonal route through the middle of the fountain – umbrellas up… and down… and sideways..

Number 2 for Me… as best of an OK bunch.
#2 Posted by Egbert on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:33 AM
Shame about the quality of images here - not just the pixellation (which I'm sure UR can't help), but the CGI work in entries 3 and (particularly) 5 is woeful - looks like a 1990s PC game.
#3 Posted by Egbert on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:38 AM
Entry 2 looks promising though...
#4 Posted by Stephen on 9 Jan 2013 at 10:57 AM
Wow. Big expanses of soaking hardstanding with the occasional randomly shaped folly. Hardly the sort of place-making we might have hoped for at this stage. Any pleasant seating areas? Perhaps a sequence of rooms to walk through? Any potential to sit above the ground plane? No? Just some banana shaped benches and a two-tone spiral paving pattern? Oh.
I'm sure the more detailed designs will show an improvement.........
#5 Posted by IAN SKEWIS on 9 Jan 2013 at 11:53 AM
I've just viewed the above shortlist and am very disappointed with what's on show. Not one of the entrants have shown any real imagination or flair. Flowerbeds, fountains and statues pushed unceremoniously to one side do not a George Square make. Each entrant has shown a considerable lack of judgement and imagination and I am aghast at what's on show. A paddling pool is ridiculous considering that our summers are particularly short here and the winter wonderland of entry number 4 blocks off the buildings behind it. Only the 5th entrant tries to integrate their ideas but there is far too much consideration on how it looks and not how it will function. We need a wow factor and something that will attract more people into the square resulting in more spending. Look to Paris or even Manchester for inspiration - at least they know how to do things properly. We have a huge reputation for our history and our architecture - and this does not stand up to scrutiny. Back to the drawing board please!
James Cowan
#6 Posted by James Cowan on 9 Jan 2013 at 12:03 PM
View of buildings blocked in one with the big canopy with the statues shoved under it, the column looking totally out of place on the periphery, the naff tv makeover language of 'water features' in a city with plenty of rain. This is not the south of France! Why not have a 'feature' which harvests and funnels the rain when it inevitable comes? THE TARTAN TARMAC-this is incredible and destroys any confidence I have in these cooncillors who could choose this for the shortlist. The strange white stripes one? What's that one all about? And we, the public who own this have a whole 9 days to give our point of view before it is bulldozed through?what always rankles me, is that designers seem to rarely think how their designs will play out in real life. Pissing down rain, and 'mist clouds?' Windy conditions and that large water pool. How's that going to look? The wooshy black surface...covered in chewing gum as it is all the way up Buchanan Street? I think this Square should be restored to its elegant, Victorian original state before these god awful cooncillors got in power.
#7 Posted by BML on 9 Jan 2013 at 12:28 PM
Dear God! Is that the sound of stunned silence I can hear? I wiould love to know who took 5 minutes to think up Entry 5....
Geordie Munro
#8 Posted by Geordie Munro on 9 Jan 2013 at 13:33 PM
What an embarrassment for Scotland on an international stage. The quality of design & visuals for some of these leave a lot to be desired.

We shouldn't be settling for the best of an ok bunch.

I understand we can't rightly make sweeping statements about these proposals without reviewing the complete displays, however if these are the images they've chosen to sell it to the public we may be in some trouble...

With work to begin this year and hopes of 'phase one' to be complete before the 2014 Commonwealth Games. I fear we may be lumbered with a pretty woeful submission due to time constraints.

James Cowan
#9 Posted by James Cowan on 9 Jan 2013 at 14:28 PM
I think no.5 deserves a closer look....
emmm, where do you start.
The tartan: I'm speechless
The black rubble strewn along the top left...what is this exactly?
the green blob lurking in the bushes bottom right...c'est quoi?
ditto the UFO on the left.
and as for the Colonel Custer Last Stand encirclement of the remaining, non massacred statues, on the right. GENIUS!
#10 Posted by JP on 9 Jan 2013 at 15:47 PM
Is it possible to vote for secret opition number 7? Lots of traditionalist out there would think this would be lovely.
Not sure if Brad Pitt would have come to film his movie here if Glasgow had put inplace entry 5, oh dear is all I can say.
#11 Posted by KeBo on 9 Jan 2013 at 16:23 PM
These so called designs seriously miss the mark. No.6 seems to have done the most homework/presented better than the rest...but a few flower beds and some nice paving are not good enough. The others are just shocking in their mediocrity.
#12 Posted by Ruadh on 9 Jan 2013 at 17:11 PM
Are Endemol sponsoring No. 6 ?
#13 Posted by Paul on 9 Jan 2013 at 17:27 PM
Cant help but conclude the first £5m is to create a big space in the middle of the Square for 2014.

The following £10m, I fear, will never come forward.

#14 Posted by Alan on 10 Jan 2013 at 00:06 AM
I think something can be taken from each design. No one design stands out and says 'I'm a sure winner'. The only entry I totally disagree with is #2

I think we have to stop living in the grandeur of time gone by. Which is why I think #3 is spot on with moving the statues to the left. The space needs to be opened up in the center. I quite like the overall design of #3 however I do disagree with the mist clouds.

I like #5's submission of pedestrianizing the two ends. I'd even go as far to pedestrianise the whole square. I'm unsure about the cenotaph though. I'm well aware of what it stands for but many a new public space elsewhere could be created specifically for this. Either that of relocate it to the opposite end of the square.

However, the square can't be condemned just by the aesthetics involved within it's perimeters. Much has left to be desired by the buildings that surround it mainly on George street.
#15 Posted by Laura on 10 Jan 2013 at 00:11 AM
6 actually attempts to restore some of the integrity of the square and turn it back in to a useable public space for the people of Glasgow to enjoy. It actually breaks down the space in to smaller more human spaces. It also looks vaguely useable- unlike the version with the ferris wheel and barrier free ice rink. Give gcc 10 minutes they'll have enough heras fencing around that to remove any possible quality of space that may exist. Need tobyirf all the junk and venue stuff out of the sq and remember it as amnopen space, is dear green city after all.I agree with Jp version 7 would be good.
Sir ano
#16 Posted by Sir ano on 10 Jan 2013 at 13:07 PM
Shocking shortlist! Can't believe these have actually been chosen, disappointed!
#17 Posted by Neil on 10 Jan 2013 at 13:48 PM
Usual bile comments, nice. I believe the shortlisted teams were chosen BEFORE the designs were produced so you can't blame the jury for the tartan rug.

That said, the general standard of the entries is pretty poor. 2 and 4 are the only ones with any intrinsic interest.
#18 Posted by David on 10 Jan 2013 at 14:30 PM

I think the shortlist coming before the design work is the whole problem. Why didn't they just allow designs from everyone? I remember a competition for Stavanger Opera House and there were in excess of 100 entries, from all over the world, all presented at a higher standard than these, and as a result not only generated a far clearer understanding of the possibilities of the site, but also crucially gave them the ability to pick the real best scheme. We now just have these 6 (mediocre at best) schemes to choose from. It's incredibly depressing to ponder if we have to basically choose one of these because we only have the others to choose from. And also, which genius decided to run the design stage over christmas and new year? It's clear that the entrants spent more time in festive merriment than at the drawing board.
Rem Koolbag
#19 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 10 Jan 2013 at 15:37 PM
Agreed David - ridiculous to select teams then have them produce designs. It strangles the process and means you are only getting on the shortlist because of who you are, not what your design is. I would have entered a design competition but realised there was no possibility of meeting the criteria or being noticed amongst any names.

Ridiculous also to run the thing over the Christmas period. It is a classic mistake of setting a stupid date of 4th January or whenever, without actually engagin the brain as to what it means for the lucky few chosen teams. Even the logistics of getting the visuals done for this sort of time is compromised by setting it over new year etc.

That might explain some of the poor efforts
George Squire
#20 Posted by George Squire on 10 Jan 2013 at 18:02 PM
For me, #2 is the best of a fairly lacklustre bunch, and the irony is that it is the one that perhaps alters the status quo the least.

Therefore, does it necessarily justify a £5m spend simply to put down some new paving if the overall public realm does not radically improve?
#21 Posted by Neil on 10 Jan 2013 at 21:02 PM
#18 David, #19 Rem: I couldn't agree more. There are far too many restricted / shortlisted competitions these days. This seems to be the norm with RIBA competitions these days and I fear that the RIAS is following suit. From what I have seen, truly open competitions are the norm in much of Europe. Is it any coincidence that the general standard of architecture on the continent is so much better than it is here? Not the only reason, I know, but certainly an influencing factor.
John Cowie
#22 Posted by John Cowie on 11 Jan 2013 at 13:42 PM
option 7 please! Restore George Square.
the overwhelming favourite online.

Fast growing demonstration organised for 2nd Feb.

#23 Posted by Ooctopus on 11 Jan 2013 at 15:38 PM
Once Option 7 is established can we also set up stalls at the main entry points to the square where people are forced to dress in victorian attire? Perhaps an opium den or two and a secret tunnel to the slave ships wouldn't be amiss too.
#24 Posted by David on 11 Jan 2013 at 15:52 PM
#23...I see where you're coming from, however until someone shows me even a DECENT new design proposal, then restoring to its former glory is still the clear winner.
John Cowie
#25 Posted by John Cowie on 11 Jan 2013 at 22:39 PM
Oh yes, Octopus, and while we are at it. Don't you think the interior of the City Chambers is like, sooo old fashioned. I mean, just not fit for purpose! Let's modernise it and make it fit for the 21 st century.
Nice shiny multicoloured lights, get rid off that terrible marble- so passe! And then lets rip out all that horrible old antiquty brown..yuck.

And then the square AND the inside of the City Chambers will be so like...modern.

#26 Posted by @ConservationFis on 13 Jan 2013 at 11:42 AM
I basically agree with grumbleweed about no need for any extra water in Glasgow-we are not in Southern Europe no matter how much we would like to be. The design just needs to be simple, clean and kind of square-shaped, maybe restrained, although as I write this I realise that this is perhaps not in character for Glasgow. Please keep the sculpture - this is not Russia we don't need to trash our past heroes. Please use Scottish or UK stone (we have enough of it, it is just more expensive) it could help the economy. Don't import stone from Asia or China which is unsustainable and has unanswered human rights questions. I would go for 2 or maybe 5, because the unfortunate shortbread tin graphic will not read on the ground.
Art Vandelay
#27 Posted by Art Vandelay on 18 Jan 2013 at 08:42 AM
Fantastic - shortlist to be scrapped over concerns re. design quality.

Anyone got the feeling nothing is going to happen, and all we're going to get is a metal version of the Commonwealth Games logo, á la the Olympics last year?

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