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Strathclyde University refuse to rule out demolition of brutalist Architecture Building

January 21 2013

Strathclyde University refuse to rule out demolition of brutalist Architecture Building
Doubts have been cast over the future of Strathclyde University’s Architecture Building after the University refused to confirm or deny that the 1960s structure would be retained following the departments departure at the end of the year.

Asked whether the Frank Fielden & Associates designed block could be demolished a Strathclyde University spokesperson told Urban Realm: “We’re not any further forward on what the outcome will be for the building. When I spoke to the department last week there were no plans in place so we don’t have any definitive answer on what’s going to happen.

“As part of the single campus project we will be looking at all existing buildings and what the future will be for them. “

Strathclyde announced last week that the Architecture School would vacate the building in order to join a new £35m ‘engineering hub’ centred on the Royal College building, the James Weir Building and Naval Architecture building.

It is the latest blow to morale for a department already undergoing a succession of cutbacks.

Professor Scott MacGregor, executive dean of the Faculty of Engineering, said “The Faculty is fully committed to the development of architecture and this substantial investment will create a dynamic learning, teaching, working and research environment that will enhance the student experience. Our campus development plan will also increase opportunities for collaboration between the architecture department and academics in other disciplines including those associated with design, sustainability and the environment.

“This exciting development will provide access to world leading teaching and research facilities and will facilitate the development of innovative new research which will benefit architecture practice and the wider society.”
A series of stacked 'promenade decks' were likened by the architects to a cruise ship
A series of stacked 'promenade decks' were likened by the architects to a cruise ship
Internally the school remains a hive of activity - for now
Internally the school remains a hive of activity - for now

The Architecture Building is regarded as the best post war building on the Starthclyde campus
The Architecture Building is regarded as the best post war building on the Starthclyde campus
The dilapidated structure evidences a lack of investment
The dilapidated structure evidences a lack of investment

The long, narrow, building straddles a precipitous site
The long, narrow, building straddles a precipitous site
The north facade fronts a courtyard sculpture park
The north facade fronts a courtyard sculpture park

Unsympathetic, though largely reversible, changes have been made internally
Unsympathetic, though largely reversible, changes have been made internally


#1 Posted by "El" on 21 Jan 2013 at 12:42 PM
RIP Strathclyde Architecture Dept.
#2 Posted by HENRY MCKEOWN on 21 Jan 2013 at 13:51 PM
This is a really excellent building and must not be allowed to go.
#3 Posted by Egbert on 21 Jan 2013 at 15:35 PM
Would be a real shame to lost this. However it's a bit of a stretch to call it 'Brutalist', and possibly not helpful in this case - as a term that can very quickly become a pejorative, particularly in the hands of certain philistine sections of the media.
Alan H
#4 Posted by Alan H on 21 Jan 2013 at 16:28 PM
Lets not get too agitated just yet. There is a statutory presumption against the demolition of this very fine building. The University, however, now needs to consider its options - and the floorplan will be sufficiently flexible to provide a number of opportunities.
Rhys Harper
#5 Posted by Rhys Harper on 21 Jan 2013 at 17:03 PM
I'm a Strathclyde student and I can assure you that building is hideous. I'll be glad if it goes. We have a great uni but physically, it's let down and needs to be redeveloped.
Gorbals again?
#6 Posted by Gorbals again? on 21 Jan 2013 at 22:24 PM
Being a child of Glasgow, I am reminded of the BBC coverage of Glasgow’s Gorbals in the 1970’s by this magazine's articles on the Architecture Dept. of Strathclyde University, negative inaccurate and wrong. I have the pleasure of being closely involved in the dept. and know many of the students and staff. We have an Italian Professor as our head of dept., who has high academic qualifications and a great research background. Under him is a diverse team managing the transformation of the department building into the 21st century. The staff are not demoralised they are professional and committed to the students. There have been some concerns and resistance to change, this is normal. Most of the issues raised have or are being addressed. At a time of financial restraints the University of Strathclyde is investing in the department’s future, strongly supported by the Engineering faculty. The students will have a dept. of Architecture that they can be proud of. New staff, new equipment, new infrastructure, new methods, change for the future. The existing building will survive as there are no existing plans to knock it down, unlike the Gorbals of the 1970’s.
#7 Posted by Strathstudent on 22 Jan 2013 at 00:58 AM
Rhys, what? Hideous? Glad if it goes?

This building was and still is the foundation block for producing some great students into the profession.

Yes it could do with a lick off paint and a tidy up, but to allow it to be knocked down whilst we're moved to call centreesque accommodation in the James Weir?

Are you on the faculty pay roll?
#8 Posted by Rossco on 22 Jan 2013 at 08:01 AM
This is a shame if its demolished. Sure the classrooms are cold and a little out dated but the light and views from the building are exellent. It is also great that the department is in one building as in there is little risk of idiots defacing work or wrecking models. Where in the james watt building are they going?
Art Vandelay
#9 Posted by Art Vandelay on 22 Jan 2013 at 08:49 AM
Tell us Rhys - what do you find so objectionable about it?
#10 Posted by wonky on 22 Jan 2013 at 12:10 PM
The Brutalist label is in no way appropriate for this building- like all buldings of its era, its let down by some substandard secondary features: poor windows, overuse of cheap materials in delicate areas (specifically those exposed to the boreal elements, ie roofing). But these are superficial faults that are easily rectified with modest investment. My favourite feature of the building is its stacked 'promenade decks' that to me are a nod to Romanesque arcades- an architectural feature that protects us from the fickle Caledonian weather and dampens the noise of the wider environs. That makes sense in this part of the world. Who would have thunk it? Intelligent design with people and the real world in mind? Will it ever take off? Lets just bulldoze it and replace it with a Mies van der Rohe mimicked Glass Block of industrial design...the future is made of solid objects bounded by six square self cleaning glass faces reflecting each other into an infinite regression of aesthetic utilitarian homogeneity populated by hairless de-sexed Royalets pressing their smooth digits onto numbered buttons...whakawhakawhakawoo...medication time!
#11 Posted by AS on 22 Jan 2013 at 12:56 PM
Rhys, seriously? Hideous? You’re a Zaha Hadid fan boy aren’t you? Yes, it's an old building suffering from inevitable wear and tear, but it has been (and should continue to be) the lifeblood of an extraordinarily successful Department of Architecture.

Granted, this is not solely down to the building, but more down to the committed staff, students and tutors. However, without this building unifying the department, what will become of a once great department?

I predicted - when I left the department following my Masters - that there would no longer be a Department of Architecture at Strathclyde within 10 years of my leaving. Unfortunately, that prediction looks to be right on track.
Zaha Hadid
#12 Posted by Zaha Hadid on 22 Jan 2013 at 15:14 PM
Thx for the interest in my work, one day you will drive a porsche, have long hair, wear no socks. Sorry thats another left over from the 1980s. Your generation is the future, believe.
Live the dream. 1960's buildings are best left in the past.
Ghost of Reality
#13 Posted by Ghost of Reality on 23 Jan 2013 at 11:09 AM
Gorbals again:

Is that Dr G? The only person I can think of to spout such utter tripe.

The rest of the civilized world:

The comments of 'Gorbals again' bear no semblance of reality , the faculty is moving the department in a case of bully boy, 'show who is boss' mentality. This strategy is extremely risky, and it is very easy for them due to the fact they installed two yes men at the helm, who represent faculty to the department, and not the department to the faculty.

The architecture department is extremely strong position, which is being undermined by poor decisions. It was just announced by 'Domus' in its top 35 Architecture Schools in Europe recently (the only School in Scotland to make the list). 'Domus' highlighted this building as central to that high ranking.

Key staff have gone, and the students left behind are trying to make the best of a tragic situation. Word on the ground is that the department will have to move back to its natural home on Rottenrow. Its a building suited to Architecture studios, nobody else will thank you for it.

What is proposed in the James Weir is a scandal, and anyone's attempts to paint it as anything other than abysmal is simply deluded on a multitude of levels. Demolish the James Weir instead - it is truly horrific!!
Gorbals Again
#14 Posted by Gorbals Again on 23 Jan 2013 at 18:30 PM
Not Dr G or the other Dr G. Yes men? Is that yes to future success, investment, research, teaching and a positive future? Sounds like reality to me.
What is the Architecture dept, is it not a school of Architecture with live interaction between teachers and students? A building may enhance our surroundings but the building is not the school.
Student of Architecture
#15 Posted by Student of Architecture on 23 Jan 2013 at 22:12 PM
Gorbals Again, I hope you are who I think you are, we do have hope in the future. There is some negative crap around that as students we do not need. James Weir, Rotten Row, all we need is a future.
Student A
#16 Posted by Student A on 24 Jan 2013 at 17:35 PM
Derek, geez a break and come out of the basement. The fresh air will surely do you some good and put things in perspective for you regarding your future employment at the department.
#17 Posted by Beavis on 24 Jan 2013 at 21:03 PM
Gorbals again - David G? The master of ekhm sustainability? The fact is that the faculty appointed two bullys to make this move happen, totally agree with GoR.
#18 Posted by EKHM on 24 Jan 2013 at 22:56 PM
Student A, Beavis
Oh! do u have issues, be a man and submit your points to your friend face to face. There is no reality no black and no white, only grey. Now can we get back to debating or actual exchange in knowledge? Leave the servants alone!
#19 Posted by Automat on 25 Jan 2013 at 01:42 AM
Gorbals Again

You can ramble on all day about “future success, investment, research, teaching and a positive future” but the management talk does not get away from the real problem. There has been a lack of understanding into the fundamentals of architectural study, or a failure to act upon any understanding (I’m not sure which is worse) the massive lack of studio space in the new plans will have detrimental effects on the school. It will kill studio culture, one of the great positives that we have giving us our strength. The way this affair has been handled is scandalous; to achieve a “positive future” we must have a head of department that represents the students to the faculty, which has not happened whilst two certain people have been in charge.

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