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McAslan & Partners snubbed as George Square contest is scrapped

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January 21 2013

McAslan & Partners snubbed as George Square contest is scrapped
Radical plans to reshape Glasgow’s George Square have been scrapped in favour of a simple facelift, scandal hit council leader Gordon Matheson has conceded.

The decision follows the selection of John McAslan & Partners by the jury but vehement opposition from locals has prompted yet another embarrassing u-turn on the part of the council who will not now put that decision before councillors to award the contract.

Instead the Square will retain its current form, including statues and grassed areas with the infamous red tarmac replaced.

Matheson said: “The people of Glasgow have made it clear that they do not want a radical redesign of the square.

“They want the square to look better and be a place of which they can be proud – a place they can while away a sunny afternoon or get together and celebrate the big occasions in the life of the city.

“They also want us to keep the statues where they are, and they like the grass. However, they clearly want rid of the red tarmac.

“I am proud to say that I am listening to them.

“We will carry out this refurbishment work in time for the Commonwealth Games and only if there is public demand thereafter, will we consider a radical change.

“The companies which were asked to produce designs gave us stunning plans, any one of which would have looked fantastic, and I would like to thank the architectural firms involved for their time and hard work. I also want to thank the members of the jury.”

The latest GCC design fiasco tops a series of prior blunders; notably the terminated Glasgow Bridge and aborted Café in the Square competitions.


#1 Posted by Bill on 21 Jan 2013 at 18:12 PM
This comes as no surprise.
Absolute shambles, absolute Joke
Glasgow City Council could not run a bath
Mac Mac
#2 Posted by Mac Mac on 21 Jan 2013 at 19:04 PM
It has to be said, that we as Architects are mugs to ever enter a competition run by a bunch of over paid ******. They should be sued for wasting everyones time. I mean they are okay, they'll get their £500K severance settlement for doing bloody f'all. They wouldn't know how to play with a ball in the park!!
#3 Posted by Good-doctor on 21 Jan 2013 at 20:01 PM
Does any other profession do as much unpaid abortive work? We are constantly walked all over.
#4 Posted by Pathetic on 21 Jan 2013 at 23:25 PM
What an absolute embarrassment for the city! How can Matheson have the cheek to try and cover up a shambolically run competition by saying "we listened" What a cop out!
Is he seriously saying if these schemes had been given proper development time he would still turn his back on them?
Of course not, he would be standing singing their praises.
They just don't have the guts to admit they made a hash of organising this from day one.
Shame on GCC!
#5 Posted by boab on 22 Jan 2013 at 08:10 AM
Shocking ! ….Glasgow City Council made 6 Architectural Practices work over the Christmas Holidays for what……..a BIG fat Nothing

#6 Posted by Egbert on 22 Jan 2013 at 09:21 AM
Shame for McAslans - theirs was easily the best scheme on offer, and certainly the most dignified and respectful.
#7 Posted by Robin on 22 Jan 2013 at 10:16 AM
How much time went into the PQQs and competition submission? Going by the number of initial expressions of interest and designs prepared I would guess well over 1,000 hours, at a formidable cumulative cost to the many practices involved and at a time when the business climate is difficult enough as it is. I sincerely hope (but doubt) that the RIAS is pushing for adequate compensation for the shortlisted practices...
#8 Posted by Hunter on 22 Jan 2013 at 10:41 AM
Embarrassing result for Glasgow and a shame that McAslan's concept drawings weren't given an opportunity to be developed further. Entry 2 was by far the most subtle approach, being sympathetic to the heritage of the area, and could have had the potential to truly rejuvenate the Square. Perhaps the Council could make sure a rigorous community consultation process is followed in advance of any future design competition briefs?
#9 Posted by wonky on 22 Jan 2013 at 11:28 AM
Another political faux pas from the flub faced floundering funny fish at the cooncil...words like fiasco, farce, and futile come to mind...its yet another fumblemuff ( dropping of the ball) from these floundering fluff lovers and fatuous flannelators at the Chambers.
Politicians prove that anarchism makes perfect sense.
#10 Posted by h.a. on 22 Jan 2013 at 12:36 PM
scotland is definitely in the "never enter competitions there" list. ABSOLUTELY NO ONE has gone straight
#11 Posted by laura on 22 Jan 2013 at 13:35 PM
he is not 'listening' to the public. They dont just want a tart up- they want the square to embody the characteristics of the old square - ie statues, grass and trees. The public would not have been outraged if the proposed designs delivered this. I am not saying that they should simply 'restore; the square in conservationist sense, but they could have restored the spirit of it. They need to do a PROPER consultation BEFORE they make final decisions. This is such a disaster and embarrasement. I genuinally do not think the city council have any idea what to do with the square or how urban spaces work. The ' tart up' they propose will not solve the fundamental problem with the sqaure - that is the odd mix of functions that do not work together. (events v park). No one is happy now - least the architects who wasted huge amounts of time and money for nothing. Loss for the city and the people.
CAD Monkey
#12 Posted by CAD Monkey on 22 Jan 2013 at 13:51 PM
Q. How can I be a happy architect?
A. Do not enter competitions.

I must add, I thought the dreich image accompanting McAslan's submission did him no favours at all. I know it was supposed to be a joke...but it was a serious competition judged by lay people who obviously didn't get it.
#13 Posted by R J B on 23 Jan 2013 at 16:34 PM
What a shambles of an organisation !!
It really makes you fear for where your council tax is going with a organisation so inept and fickle.
#14 Posted by Confused on 23 Jan 2013 at 17:28 PM
@ #12 I would love to know for what reason you consider Andy McMillan and David Mackay to be lay person? Seems they are tow of this countries most revered and respected architects - (whether you like their work or not).
#15 Posted by Cadmonkey on 23 Jan 2013 at 19:03 PM
I didn't realise they were landscape architects.
Freak Person
#16 Posted by Freak Person on 24 Jan 2013 at 13:52 PM
I object to the way in which the Council patronises the people of Glasgow with a token consultation, while pushing ahead with the vanity scheme of the moment. All of the competing architects (selected by whom?) are to be paid, the winner receives £10,000, and the members of the judging panel are paid as well. It is a gross waste of public money, though less gross than the £15m cost of proceeding would have been. Why is Andy Macmillan always picked to chair these panels? Why does David Mackay of MBM Architects Barcelona have so much influence over what happens in Glasgow? Is this why we see a raft of joyless modernist schemes with meaningless water features and acres of wet windswept 'plaza'? Is it any wonder the public is totally alienated by the entire undertaking? Is it proper that Neil Baxter, Secretary of the RIAS is sitting in judgement on members of the professional body he heads? I would suggest not. It is time that Glasgow started behaving more like a modern city and less like a banana republic.
#17 Posted by ha on 26 Jan 2013 at 12:07 PM
Andy Macmillan is in my opinion the last scottish architect to have done world class architecture. it is a shame but today´s scene is just bad...
#18 Posted by SAndals on 28 Jan 2013 at 10:43 AM
Re: ha
James Stirling was alright...

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