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Buchanan Galleries rotunda out of step with public opinion

November 19 2014

Buchanan Galleries rotunda out of step with public opinion
Plans to erect a glass rotunda at the head of Buchanan Street have fermented a backlash amongst local campaigners who have hit out at the planned replacement of a prominent cascade of steps with a ‘generic and underwhelming’ entrance rotunda.

Developer Land Securities and architect BDP plan an ‘active top’ to the glazed drum with a rooftop restaurant and viewing deck. On the street below, near a statue of devolution campaigner Donald Dewar, will be replaced with a circular array of ‘art stones’ which will serve as an ‘outdoor theatre’ and ‘gathering place’ alongside new areas of public seating.

New trees would be planted and areas of pink and grey granite paving laid alongside retained slabs of Caithness stone.

Non-plussed by this vision however campaigners are closing in on reaching their target of 15,000 signatories to a petition calling on Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Parliament to block the plans.

Campaign leader Ben Bookless told Urban Realm: “The battle to save these steps, which are used by many people both as a meeting place to enjoy great views over Buchanan Street and an iconic place to protest, will prevent an ugly glass atrium being built that will make Buchanan Galleries look like any UK shopping centre, not a uniquely Glaswegian one.”

In a design statement BDP said that the plans are ‘high quality’, saying: “The curved glass wall completes the existing circular form of the concert hall and galleries elevations. The high quality glass enclosure will provide clear views in to the new internal elevation leading directly to the concert hall.”
The new atrium space will provide a joint entrance space to the concert hall and shopping mall
The new atrium space will provide a joint entrance space to the concert hall and shopping mall


#1 Posted by Humph on 19 Nov 2014 at 14:09 PM
The notes on those sketches are hilarious, what a load of absolute nonsense. They have a similar circular outdoor seating arrangement at St Enochs and it's rubbish. BDP miss the point of the opposition entirely, it's not just about views or somewhere to sit, it's the seemingly never ending privatisation of real/perceived public space (I do not know who owns the existing steps and if they are truly public but they are certainly perceive and used as such).
#2 Posted by Chris on 19 Nov 2014 at 16:55 PM
Public space should not be sacrificed to satisfy the needs of private development (not to mention developments that are being subsidised by loans from the council).
#3 Posted by Jon on 19 Nov 2014 at 17:07 PM
For everybody signing the petition, also make sure you object on the Glasgow City Council planning site - the petition will only act as one objection if it is counted at all, where as everybody that signs it should also put in an individual objection.
Big Chantelle
#4 Posted by Big Chantelle on 19 Nov 2014 at 19:54 PM
So public money is being used to finance a private scheme which in the process of using the public money for their scheme is tearing down public space?

Thought you lot would have loved the 'iconic' glass thingy.
#5 Posted by Jamie on 19 Nov 2014 at 23:06 PM
14 storey car park?
#6 Posted by james on 20 Nov 2014 at 08:40 AM
There is only one thing worse than bad public art and that is when architects
think they are artists, or PR apologists. Never mind the architecture, the sketch drawing masquerading as an idea for urban landscaping is about as bad and frankly insulting as it gets. We are told - as a sop to the 15,000 objectors (as why else would BDP put this bilge out?) that this 'gathering' place is 'symbolic of Scottish gathering places since pre-history' and that 'art stones - 'tell a story'. What story would that be then? The story about trying to fob off 15,000 protestors with some truly banal and meaningless empty piece of street clutter in lieu of a civic entrance to a concert hall that also just happened to be a real public gathering place? Bitter Together Glasgow City Council wouldn't be behind this in any way now would they for financial and political reasons? Of course not. Oh yes, and we are also told by an architect that 'seating stones are a Scottish image'. Really? Well, well, well. . What part of Scotland is that then? We may as well be told that the Unionist parties made a VOW to the Scottish electorate - Ach! never mind independence, here's a symbol instead. And the drawing itself is typically disingenuous for what crawls out of an architects office under the guise of being clever that visually omits any physical relationship between the Dan Dare glass drum and the ground plan and so the 3D drawing is yet another illusion. So to BDP, I'd just say this, do not treat the public as if they are stupid. All this proposal amounts to is civic vandalism under the single-mindedly crass pursuit of corporate profit aided and abetted by shit-eating architects.
#7 Posted by brian on 20 Nov 2014 at 09:02 AM
As much as I don't like the steps because they look filthy all the time this Glass thing is just awful.There is no room at moment when there is a band playing and folks all standing about ,So if you take stairs away you will have all those folks standing and sitting in front of Glass entrance and its difficult enough to walk past from Sausageroll street to Buchanan st unless I cut down the lane at back of top EMPTY HMV shop,
#8 Posted by wtf on 20 Nov 2014 at 09:14 AM
Lol @ #6. Yes everything is about the referendum, it's because we're not independent that this is happening. Definitely. Uh-huh...

...oh brother.
#9 Posted by james on 20 Nov 2014 at 10:52 AM
Dear wtf, now then, where did i say anything like that? hmmm. Did you actually read what I said? Did you read the summarising last sentence that begins with the word 'all'? Please, wtf, if you have something to say then say it, otherwise do not put words into the mouths of others' opinions. For you to apparently think that GCC dinosaur councillors are oblivious to the win win situation they are looking at regarding 'the steps' is politically naive to say the least. Otherwise, just why did BDP issue this press response to criticism with the word 'Scottish' plastered all over it then? or is that just coincidence? - it couldn't be that there is a public petition against this specific proposal, by any chance? Sorry, I forgot - architects are above that sort of thing, the hoi polloi that is.
Rem Koolbag
#10 Posted by Rem Koolbag on 20 Nov 2014 at 11:04 AM
So UR - I can't quite make it out due to your poor wording in paragraph 2, but is it proposed to move the Dewar statue? If so, where will it be going to?

Lets not make the demolition and further privatisation of the steps be the only peg we hang our protesting hats on here - as Jamie #5 picks up on there is a bloody big car ramp looming over George Square. And the bridge across Cathedral Street OH GOD NOT THE BRIDGE
philip johnson
#11 Posted by philip johnson on 20 Nov 2014 at 12:22 PM
I think Nicola S in her first initiative as 1st minister should carry out an immediate audit into the course/tutor standards at our architectural places of learning......this is really bad
Neil C
#12 Posted by Neil C on 20 Nov 2014 at 12:25 PM
#6 - Your valid points about the crassness of this scheme are rather undermined by your use of phrases like "Bitter Together", "We may as well be told that the Unionist parties made a VOW to the Scottish electorate" and "Never mind independence, here's a symbol instead."

I don't see any connection between the Concert Hall steps and the independence referendum - probably because there isn't one. Let's concentrate on criticising rubbish architecture, eh?
Willie Winkie
#13 Posted by Willie Winkie on 20 Nov 2014 at 13:25 PM
#12 - No connection? I take it you didnt attend the pro-independence rallies held on those steps?

The steps have become a focal point for meeting, for performers, for protest. The siting of the Donald Dewar statue at it's base is part of the icon. The space has been taken by the people and it should not be given up for yet another shopping mall entrance. Especially one as bland as this.
David Wilson
#14 Posted by David Wilson on 20 Nov 2014 at 21:32 PM
Donald Dewar, devolution campaigner..

How I laughed, you mean the guy who gave away 6,000 square miles of Scottish North Sea territory as payment for a devolved parliament ?

Look east out over the water anywhere from St Andrews south to Berwick Upon Tweed and know that beyond the horizon lies newly acquired English territorial waters thanks to this man Donald Dewar.

I can think of a few names for this guy, devolution campaigner is not one of them.
#15 Posted by Anon on 21 Nov 2014 at 09:01 AM
#3 Jon, thank you for putting a link up to the planning website, better to complain there where it may have impact! However, how do you actually object? I can leave a 'public comment' after signing in but surely that can't be it?!
Ainslie Innes
#16 Posted by Ainslie Innes on 21 Nov 2014 at 14:03 PM
Could we PLEASE please please, not 'devolve' everything into a debate about independence?
I'd also like to thank BDP. As an architecture student, seeing things like this really inspire me to work hard in school, so I don't end up working on something like that!
Ainslie Innes
#17 Posted by Ainslie Innes on 21 Nov 2014 at 14:07 PM
#6 James,
Incidentally architects ARE artists. They take ideas and aspirations and manifest them in reality. The only difference between an architect and someone like Richard Serra or Cristo, is the forces of design, politics and economics also govern buildings, meaning an architects' mandate is much wider than an artists, but their purpose is fundamentally the same.
Neil C
#18 Posted by Neil C on 21 Nov 2014 at 14:10 PM
#13 - Plans for an atrium entrance to the new Buchanan Galleries date back to 2008. People have been fighting to save these steps for six years, which is why I'm so disappointed to see people falsely trying to link these plans to the referendum campaign.

For what it's worth, pro-Union campaigners also used the Concert Hall steps to host rallies earlier this year. The debate about the steps is not - and should not be - about politics. It should be about appropriate provision of public realm, and not letting big business dictate our surroundings.
#19 Posted by George on 21 Nov 2014 at 14:18 PM
I don't actually think this is too bad. For a key shopping centre on a key street, it needs some kind of big entrance rather than a little doorway beside some concrete steps. The steps aren't exactly Mackintosh art pieces, so I can see what they are looking for here. However to try and drag independence into all this, honestly.....!
#20 Posted by james on 21 Nov 2014 at 16:04 PM
dear Ainslie, - Architects ARE Artists!? Well, whatdya know?! Is there any end to their boundless talent? - Q. How many architects does it take to change a lightbulb? A. One. Why? - because they know everything there is to know!!!!! Incidentally, this thread was never ever a debate about independence. The coincidence of BDP's pathetic 'political' response to c. 15,000 petition signers to save 'the steps' was highlighted. Uch!, but what does it matter anyway? It's all academic. This'll get built. Nothing will get in the road of mega bucks and the arrayed phalanx of supporting turgid design statements by commercial architects.
#21 Posted by David on 21 Nov 2014 at 16:38 PM
This could be a beautifully elegant well considered redesign for all I care, and some comments above are slightly missing the point.

The steps, like a lot of quality spaces, have become a very popular inhabited space, possibly by accident (always the best way).

We're losing this wonderful space, and the statue of Donald Dure, and what do we get in it's place? stones to sit on that are, woooh, in an oh so historically Scottish arse.

Absolutely pathetic.
#22 Posted by Matthew on 24 Nov 2014 at 21:15 PM
Thanks Jon for the link to the application, there is also a separate application for conservation area consent for the demolition of the steps themselves, the number is 14/02569/DC. The justification argues that "the existing steps do not provide any aesthetic benefit to the city centre, and is of little townscape value".
#23 Posted by Ethan on 1 Mar 2015 at 22:25 PM
complaining about removal of some step, geez you guys are weird.

Right guys lets get down the the main issue here, whats going to happen to the Donald Dewars's Glasses?

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