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Latest George Square facelift proposals unveiled amidst RIAS/GCC infighting

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March 18 2013

Latest George Square facelift proposals unveiled amidst RIAS/GCC infighting
Glasgow City Council has released an artist’s impression of its toned down plans for a £15m renovation of the public space in the wake of its abortive design competition – formally ending any prospect of John McAslan’s winning scheme being brought forward.

The inhouse plans are currently under consideration by councilors and would entail repaving the Square’s red tarmac with grey epoxy resin at a cost of £500k between July and September.

Two grass beds on the western side of the square will also be returned and feature lighting introduced to the statues and trees within the square.

Following the 2014 Commonwealth Games a more substantial intervention will be implemented, including a more permanent surfacing solution subsequent to further public consultation.

Council leader Gordon Matheson said: "The people of Glasgow were very vocal throughout the design competition that they did not want a radical redesign of the square.They wanted the statues to remain, the grass to stay and the red tarmac to go. We listened to their views and have responded."

The latest plans emerged as Audit Scotland announced it was conducting an investigation into the £90k design contest organised by GCC and the RIAS as part of its annual audit of the Council.

The RIAS have subsequently sought to distance themselves from the fiasco by pinning the blame on Matheson, writing in an internal report: "… from his initial comments at the first judges meeting onwards, it appears that, for whatever reason, Councillor Matheson had selected his own winner at the outset and reasoning by a very experienced group of judges did not persuade him otherwise....

"The subsequent decision to breach the promise inherent in any such process, albeit arguing that this was in the "public interest", resulted in a very significant waste of public and private resources. This competition brought the judges, the profession, the Incorporation and the City of Glasgow into significant disrepute."

A GCC spokesperson told Urban Realm: "We don’t have any comment to make on the criticisms of Cllr Matheson."
Latest George Square facelift proposals unveiled amidst RIAS/GCC infighting


#1 Posted by mobo on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:17 PM
So the square is going to be temporarily resurfaced at a cost of £500k - shame on the Council for not taking into consideration any waste of time, money and the environment! It look like they have also not taken into consideration pedestrianisation. It goes from shockingly bad to shockingly worse.
#2 Posted by stef3d on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:25 PM
Congratulations GCC, you've achieved the unthinkable and made the square look even worse than it does at the moment.
Neil C
#3 Posted by Neil C on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:33 PM
I really don't understand people sometimes. For years, all I've heard is that George Square is an eyesore and a mess. Then GCC propose six new designs, all of which get utterly trashed by cyber critics. Then, when the council bow to popular opinion by offering us reinstated grass verges and the removal of the loathed red tarmac, people on this site claim it's going to look even worse than it does now!
#4 Posted by help2 on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:45 PM
i thought the architect team within GCC that would want to end this whole debacle by producing something good.... well at least those people who like big vertical signs will be happy - they always get what the want, obviously knowing what is on elsewhere in glasgow while standing in George square is the most important thing about being in this civic space
Big Chantelle
#5 Posted by Big Chantelle on 18 Mar 2013 at 15:50 PM

LOL. Have you read the critique of the design process mate by RIAS? The whole "we respected public opinion hence why we didn't pursue any designs" is utter nonsense. It's been stated that Matheson had a hissy fit because the other judges selected a design he hated and so the whole thing was called off. Let's all stop deluding ourselves that GCC were being respectful of public opinion.

Saying that, the 6 designs were utter pish in my opinion. I would have knocked one out on Microsoft paint for a tenner and we could have be gettin' on building it. But the proposed one does look better than what is there currently which wouldn't be hard considering the red tarmac resembles the same pinky colour as sunburnt arse cheeks. But epoxy resin flooring has me shuddering that it will resemble a giant playground. Plus, black ground isn't particularly forgiving for seagull keek gettin dropped on it.
#6 Posted by Jennifer on 19 Mar 2013 at 11:37 AM
This simply another vain hissy-fit from the other side - albeit in a cleverer disguise. Baxter and Matheson are cut from the same cloth.
kevin toner
#7 Posted by kevin toner on 19 Mar 2013 at 12:59 PM
#5 good point. Let's price for e.g. marble or travertine for the main surfacing. Some examples below!

Don’t listen to #1 - pedestrianisation would be the death knell of the place, its essence and authenticity.

Gordon, take a trip to Europe to see how other places may have demonstrated respect for their very special spaces. Future generations may likewise wish to grace George Sq's surface with a substantial material, If not in our time.

We shouldn't dismiss the ‘place’s essence’ merely because we can’t afford to grace it yet... What’s perhaps most likely given rise to the common misconception that the square has no significance, e.g. like being seen more as a traffic island rather than a statuary park, is perhaps because we have refrained from gracing the surfacing with anything substantial and permanent - until such times that we can ‘do it justice’. It’s not our fault if ‘uninformed criticism’ and ‘creative hungry competitors’ manifests itself in the interim. In fact Gordon, whether accidentally or not, the competition has done well to expose this anti-culture always working in the background of our cultural heritage!

Yes Gordon, let’s have resurfacing on the agenda, as either A) in a very substantial material, phased or otherwise; or B) conversely in a more sacrificial material in full, which we have already. It’s the sheer expense of the minimal change for B) that prompts us to ask what about A).

We owe something back to Glasgow and this could be it, i.e. to adorn one of her most important urban artefacts; or in the interim, to indefinitely or temporarily understate it.


I've rummaged back on my photos and found a day and night snapshot of this stuff, marble. However, not sure if these white examples, as shown, would live well in overcast skies as an external material. ; &

The cost could possibly be made affordable by striking an ‘endorsement and economies-of-scale’ deal with producers. A realisation would genuinely respect our urban heritage and tourism altogether, and would generate economic payback in the longer term.

If that's too lavish, then disguise the “keek/etc.” with this stuff here instead, travertine:-

A final point on applying such materials externally as a one-off, albeit widespread in its interiors:

I don't know if constant wetness would induce too low a slip resistance and whether or not this would matter much in a veritable art gallery, for instance where you won't run.

Such an investment/realisation would actually complete what is in essence a worthy counterpoint to Blythswood Sq., finally.

Do I win the competition; I could do with a share of some of that dosh?
kevin toner
#8 Posted by kevin toner on 19 Mar 2013 at 14:05 PM
ps on the final point: civility by force perhaps! Civility - whatza thata, dinna wannit?
#9 Posted by Snake on 19 Mar 2013 at 15:56 PM
maybe blacktop is the way least then when they have to dig it up to renew some pipe 2 weeks later the blacktop patches wont look so bad!
kevin toner
#10 Posted by kevin toner on 20 Mar 2013 at 10:51 AM
pps: and perhaps do it with a [safe nominally distinguishable] marble kerbing so that A) the surface appears to have surfaced from our own geology below rather than as appearing inlayed; and of course B) to dispense with design (since it's the stone that will be doing the talking in this case) - right, I think that deserves a small win: no photos required, merely imagination!"
kevin toner
#11 Posted by kevin toner on 20 Mar 2013 at 10:56 AM
ppps: a fairly creative solution I'd say, without having to intervene in the strong heritage aspect. That'll be £15,000 please!
Wee Davie
#12 Posted by Wee Davie on 20 Mar 2013 at 15:33 PM
do you just open your mouth and let your belly rumble?
what a load of mince you spout.

Bob Currie
#13 Posted by Bob Currie on 21 Mar 2013 at 09:21 AM
I wish the people of Glasgow were given the
very real opportunity to consider the proposal suggesting a pyramid similar to that at Louvre Museum and the British Museum. This would greatly enhance the
experience of a visit to City Chambers.
Whoever put forward that proposal should
be encouraged to promote it NOW. The
introduction of the pyramid would place
both the square and Glasgow on the international tourist map. What do others think?
#14 Posted by Neil on 21 Mar 2013 at 10:42 AM
# 13, of all the ideas stupid promoted for the redevelopment of George Square, this would be the most utterly bizarre.
David Stevenson
#15 Posted by David Stevenson on 21 Mar 2013 at 10:48 AM
More car parking. Less red? Totally worthwhile.
#16 Posted by A. on 21 Mar 2013 at 11:10 AM
From red tarmac to grey. Really pushing architecture and urban design in Scotland forward with this one.... There is very little budgeted design work carried out in architecture schools, can't help but think that this would have provided a very interesting and challenging design project with specific constraints and budget for the 'young architects' of Scotland. Those who have not yet become utterly disheartened by the lack of momentum in utilising the investment in Glasgow to advance architecture and design North of the border.
Philip Draper
#17 Posted by Philip Draper on 21 Mar 2013 at 11:32 AM
Ongoing mediocrity!
Dislike the present red tarmac but grey epoxy resin! come on... surely Glasgow can do beter than that!
#18 Posted by Cadmonkey on 21 Mar 2013 at 17:24 PM
I think people would think it was just a meaningless crib. For goodness sake. This proposal looks fine. It is just a square. There is more to Glasgow than this. Lets put up and move on.
kevin toner
#19 Posted by kevin toner on 21 Mar 2013 at 17:53 PM
Bob, It's already been done in post-war Anderston, I feel the column is a better marker from a distance IMO.

Wee Davie, thanks for your sarcasm.

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