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Radisson alterations to address capacity & accessibility

March 2 2021

Radisson alterations to address capacity & accessibility

A series of alterations have been proposed for Glasgow's Radisson Blu hotel including remodelled entrances to improve engagement with the street and a 'bold' rooftop extension - subject to a second imminent planning application.

Maith Design propose to glaze over the structural columns at the main entrance, instal a new copper canopy and a projecting glazed entrance to the basement together with enhanced pendant lighting to improve wayfinding.

The architectural consultancy wrote: "Unfortunately, due to the main building set back where the main entrance is located and the dominance of the projecting atrium, this has led to a lack of street engagement, with the main access point not prominent or clearly visible from the key junctions on the east and west approach."

Work will also take place to retail frontages with the introduction of a full-height shopfront running the length of the Oswald Street frontage to establish a more unified streetscape.

Responding to the proposed changes Alan Dunlop, original architect of the Radisson, said: "I was enjoying the morning until you sent me this. As the architect and designer of the Radisson SAS, a project that has garnered many architecture and hotel design awards, nationally and internationally. I write to object in the strongest possible terms to these proposals. From what I can discern from the plan and elevations submitted, it appears that the proposal glazes over the existing structural columns at the main entrance and installs a new copper canopy and a projecting glazed entrance to the basement.

"This will destroy the carefully designed foyer, which is recognised as one of the finest interior spaces in Scotland ( and of any hotel anywhere) and the sculptural column frontage to Argyle Street, with the canopy above. This building made Glasgow's financial district possible, acting as a stepping stone for the public and office staff from Central Station to the Broomielaw and the river.

"Additionally, in my view the drawings are so poor and lacking in any detail whatsoever that it is hard to see what is finally being proposed which is absurd for such an important building for Glasgow."

As part of the work, the Collage Corner Bar will be converted into a retail unit. 


Additional comment from Alan Dunlop 

I have only now seen the addition to the roof of the hotel, which I consider to be over-scaled, brutal and ill considered. Here is why: Although in 1999/2000, the west end of Argyle Street was rundown and the site had been derelict for some time, it sat within Glasgow's conservation area. As one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares, Argyle Street also still retained a character and a median height of twenty metres throughout its length.

Accordingly, the copper screen was set at 20 metres to respect and continue this median height, particularly so close to the Heilanman's Umbrella, and the scale of the thoroughfare but would allow me to build an additional one or two storey building behind. This is what happened.

I chose copper for the Radisson SAS front screen because I wanted to use an “indigenous” Glasgow material but in a dramatic way and was influenced by Gillespie Kidd and Coia’s use of copper over large areas, particularly at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Dennistoun. The copper screen is beautifully made and a credit to the Glasgow craftsmen that constructed it. It took months to set out and every shingle meets exactly where it is supposed to.

The lightweight and engineered screen acts as a foil to the buildings frontage and accommodates some flexibility of form in the Argyle Street elevation, pulling pull back from Glasgow’s grid line at the entrance to the hotel and helping to create a “public” space in-between. That space is important to the city and used for many high profile awards and functions.

The proposed rooftop addition is so over-scaled it dwarfs the screen. I can only assume it is a stalking horse, for in my view no architect could seriously propose such an addition to this building. It is clumsy and detracts from the carefully considered copper screen front and the contextual Argyle Street "Glasgow" elevation.

Again, I urge you to reject this application

 A separate application is expected shortly for a 'bold' rooftop extension
A separate application is expected shortly for a 'bold' rooftop extension
A new revolving door will be installed at Robertson Street to address current weather/wind tunnel effects
A new revolving door will be installed at Robertson Street to address current weather/wind tunnel effects

Ground and upper storey additions are subject to separate planning applications
Ground and upper storey additions are subject to separate planning applications
The Radisson Hotel in its current form
The Radisson Hotel in its current form


Andrew Brown
#1 Posted by Andrew Brown on 2 Mar 2021 at 12:34 PM
This is a great building, that’s been a successful part of the city for years. I’ve stayed there often and always knew where the entrance was, and felt that at ground level the building addressed the street well (just an opinion I know).

If it’s not broke why ‘fix’ it? There’s real potential to ruin something wonderful here.
Jimbob Tanktop
#2 Posted by Jimbob Tanktop on 2 Mar 2021 at 13:48 PM
One of Glasgow's best 21st-century buildings. Leave it alone.
#3 Posted by JustMeSaying on 2 Mar 2021 at 13:52 PM
With the new JP Morgan building going up at circa 60Meters I would have though wind tunnel effects will be increased rather than decreased at that corner...
#4 Posted by MV on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:06 PM
If you think that’s bad, wait to you see the proposed rooftop extension, also by Maith. My advice to Mr Dunlop is: don’t get out of bed that day.

This is an iconic Glasgow building. Surprising and delightful in equal measure. Age aside, it should have some listed protection, in my opinion anyway...!
Fat Bloke on Tour
#5 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:15 PM
What makes it special?
The big (light) blue wall?
The projecting box?

Michael Dougall
#6 Posted by Michael Dougall on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:22 PM
I have always admired and enjoyed this building and completely agree with the points above. Worth noting that the images don't show the full extent of the proposals being brought forward which includes a rather large roof top extension.
The Voice of Reason
#7 Posted by The Voice of Reason on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:25 PM
It isn’t that deep for 99% of the population. Radisson wants to expand and will no doubt uphold the high quality of the original build. Glasgow needs to welcome investment and development of this quality, we can’t freeze our city in time and scale forever. The original architect is being defensive but I understand the comments about street engagement, it’s time for a radisson refresh. Let’s go! :)
Colin Chapman
#8 Posted by Colin Chapman on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:43 PM
#7 Normally I would agree. I've just looked at the planning application. There is no indication at all, not in the slightest that what is proposing is of sufficient quality. This is an extraordinary building and hotel, I know I worked in it for almost ten years. People who came in for the first time were amazed, I can tell you honestly. This will ruin the entrance.
#9 Posted by Craig on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:49 PM
Get a grip Glasgow, leave the building alone it's brilliant. Maith Design, go mess up another hotel, Try Dubai
C MacLachlan
#10 Posted by C MacLachlan on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:58 PM
The Radisson will always be an iconic Glasgow building and these alterations will, in my opinion, only enhance its status as such. The rooftop extension looks fantastic and provides 100+ additional rooms, which is great news for the economy of Glasgow city centre.

Mr Dunlop produced an amazing, original design and will welcome any alterations in the same way as a parent welcomes criticism of their child!
The Heart of Saturday Night
#11 Posted by The Heart of Saturday Night on 2 Mar 2021 at 14:59 PM
It’s a particularly joyous tear-stained rant from Mr Dunlop but he’s entirely correct, this is one of the few international class buildings built in Glasgow over the past 20-odd years, these proposals are rotten, and Maith’s justification in their design statement are equally bad.

Just, no.

C Macdonald
#12 Posted by C Macdonald on 2 Mar 2021 at 15:06 PM
As a hospitality sector worker I welcome this extension to the Radisson, as it shows that the owners have belief in the city emerging from the current COVID crisis positively. Comments stating that the building should be left alone are rather baffling - we need as much investment as possible in our city centre.
With regards to the design - I like the rooftop extension it's easy on the eye and the design enhances the existing building. I also like the idea of providing a different offering at street level - it's responding to the changing face of this section of Argyle Street, which is way overdue!

People generally don't like change - go the good guys who aren't afraid to challenge and improve!
Colin Chapman
#13 Posted by Colin Chapman on 2 Mar 2021 at 15:08 PM
#10 Forgive me I am a manager not an architect but the proposal looks less than refined, ill thought through and lacking in any consideration of the front.
#14 Posted by Craig on 2 Mar 2021 at 15:16 PM
I agree it is international class as it is. These alterations are crass and will not enhance the existing building nor Argyle Street. It is absolutely not easy on the eye at all unless you have blurred vision or choose to look away from the application.
#15 Posted by Hmm on 2 Mar 2021 at 15:31 PM
One of the joys of this building is how generous it is to the street, providing a large canopy in our oft dreich city, not to mention those dramatic columns. The entrance and bar always looked quite welcoming as well, to me at least, which is quite an achievement given the scale. This proposal seems to do away with most of this which would be a great shame.
Bill Stewart
#16 Posted by Bill Stewart on 2 Mar 2021 at 15:33 PM
C Macdonald, I take your point about confidence in the hotel sector, we need to support that as we emerge from Covid but not at any cost. Have you looked at the proposals, they are without grace and blo0dy awful?
#17 Posted by MV on 2 Mar 2021 at 16:34 PM
@UR - can you post the proposed roof extension too, please? Its a dominating monster of a thing.
#18 Posted by UR on 2 Mar 2021 at 16:48 PM
Sorry, I've added the roof extension. It's subject to a separate planning application, not yet live.
#19 Posted by pooka on 2 Mar 2021 at 17:31 PM
Actually WTF - I nearly spewed up when I saw that north sea barge on the roof!
Andrew Brown
#20 Posted by Andrew Brown on 2 Mar 2021 at 17:35 PM
The rooftop extension defies belief to be honest...........
Callum Fitzpatrick
#21 Posted by Callum Fitzpatrick on 2 Mar 2021 at 17:42 PM
The corner of Oswald st and Argyle street is a horrible environment and a horrible place to wait for bus at Barrhead travel, which I quite often do.

The current collage bar died a death (despite the arrow manifestations guiding you into the awkwardly located entrance) and it never worked. The current sport direct recessed entrance does not seem to benefit anyone other than drunks.

The new proposals in this location are by far an improvement as they are bright and full of activity, unlike the current situation.

If the people commenting here have a design background, unlike me, it might be useful if they gave some constructive criticism on how this corner could be improved in a positive way. Alan Dunlop’s comments don’t offer this either. Would he tell the owners not to change anything if they approached him with a commission?

It’s not a Henry Moore sculpture, it is an operating building and it needs to operate to the needs of the current owners and the people who interact with it at street level. If it needs updated Alan Dunlop and his followers can either influence this with constructive criticism or be left back in the 90’s when Argyle Street was a completely different environment.

I suspect the architect resistant to change don’t need to slum it on the bus with us common folk and therefore would rather have a failing corner and poor environment maintained to the torment of the common people who wait there for a bus every day.
Sue Pearman
#22 Posted by Sue Pearman on 2 Mar 2021 at 18:39 PM
Callum, unfortunately the most reasonable constructive criticism would be to reduce the roof extension by say 4 storeys and to remove those awful ground floor canopies from the proposals - that would vastly improve what it shown.
Andrew Brown
#23 Posted by Andrew Brown on 2 Mar 2021 at 18:46 PM
#21 spectacularly ill-informed comment. Not regarding the building, to which you are entitled to your own opinion, but with regards to comments like ‘followers’ ‘never had to slum it on the bus’, not ‘common people’. No need to make it personal.

Just because we’re architects doesn’t mean we didn’t grow up in a right dive, and take more than our fair share of buses. I wouldn’t judge you, so don’t do the same to myself or others.

The constructive criticism is that the proposals make the connection with street level much worse, in particular with regards to putting glass over the columns to the entrance. This takes space away from ‘the street’ and gives it to inside, whilst partly masking the columns that give the facade definition to the pavement.
Stacey Phillips
#24 Posted by Stacey Phillips on 2 Mar 2021 at 19:04 PM
Architecture is hard. Pressures on projects can be tough and it’s too easy to be a critic…But help ma boab....
The extension to this building is the actual ‘story’ here. If built, it will become a bigger talking point than her maiden voyage and arrival in the city! Love her or loathe her, the Radisson is an iconic building and with all due respect to those involved in this proposal, she should be treated with greater care. She is a piece of Architecture, created under commercial pressures, indeed a clever and considered response to commercial pressures of site capacity. I get it. Would a set-back have been a crime? Would a visually contrasting lightweight extension have been a responsible and respectful understanding of this building’s, very simple and very clear diagram??
The images circulated last week filled me with genuine sadness. My formative years were spent working on this project at gm&ad. I loved it, everything, from designing carpets to developing and detailing the street elevations to designing the fitments within the public spaces including the bar. A bar, I hasten to add, that survived unchanged for 18 years until Graven Images recent revamp . Guess people could find it, and see it behind those columns after all?!!

My heart is a little broken, as I’m sure are the countless other hearts who formed part of a brilliant team who designed this building. There’s no ‘I’ in team for those in any doubt.
Fat Bloke on Tour
#25 Posted by Fat Bloke on Tour on 2 Mar 2021 at 20:19 PM
The building is all front and very weak sides -- Oswald Street specifically -- where the choice of curtains clutters its weak lines.

The big blue shield and its box is the hotel -- all the rest is just froth
#26 Posted by MV on 2 Mar 2021 at 21:56 PM
Thanks UR. I don’t always agree with Mr Dunlop... but he is correct... as are the majority above. This is an absolute shocker. Every time I see that proposed extension I’m actually shocked. There is no constructive criticism. It’s dismally terrible. Wow! This has had a successful pre-planning consultation? Really?

#25. You colour blind?
Scottish architect, still furloughed.
#27 Posted by Scottish architect, still furloughed. on 2 Mar 2021 at 22:53 PM
i cannot understand those who comment they do not always agree with alan dunlop. perhaps it is because he has such a high media and press profile that is the root cause. i agree absolutely with his writing and comments on poor school design, st peters, the burrel, glasgow school of art, non profit distribution even the bridge to ireland. he has the right attitude. i've just read a building study on high sunderland and the high praise for the architects. i hope he has gone for the chief executive job at the rias. it badly needs shaken up.
Harry Fish
#28 Posted by Harry Fish on 3 Mar 2021 at 10:58 AM
What is actually going to be in the rooftop extension? Presumably it is some extra bedrooms?

When you look up at the building from the argyle street level the pointy blue bit makes a nice contrast to the sky. Having this black box plopped on top might actually help accentuate the blue bits lower down making them more noticeable.

I can understand why the original architect might be upset that they are modifying something he spent so much time on and has won a lot of praise, but I don't think the black box on top ruins the building.
#29 Posted by Chris on 3 Mar 2021 at 11:09 AM
It's a shame, because there's an adjacent property on Oswald St that seems ideal for holding an expansion to the hotel.
Trombe Wall
#30 Posted by Trombe Wall on 3 Mar 2021 at 12:21 PM
I think this should be submitted for a SDA, in the Future Projects category.
Whispering Andy
#31 Posted by Whispering Andy on 3 Mar 2021 at 15:44 PM
Whisper it........but the proposals are quite brilliant. I love how the much maligned black box at the top provides a framing for the copper cladding and makes it even punchier.

The original Dunlop design is magnificent in its own right, and it is my considered opinion that this proposal compliments it, whilst giving the western gable a much more dramatic presence.

This one is clearly going to split opinions, which I think all good design should. I recall significant horror in the city about the original Dunlop design, and that turned out wonderfully well.

People (including me) now have too many vehicles to voice their sometimes uneducated opinions on design. I'd much rather have expert panels decide the future of our city in isolation, rather than open it up to the cultish joe public for their inevitable uninformed reasons to object.
#32 Posted by Tom on 3 Mar 2021 at 17:11 PM
I have been following the conversation on the planning proposals for the Radisson Blu hotel. I have not added my full name to this open forum as I was involved within the development and regeneration services in Glasgow when the hotel was in development and then submitted for planning approval and conservation area consent and am no longer. Contrary to the claim that there was "significant horror" there was instead a realisation that the proposals put forward by architect Alan Dunlop at reviews also at the Glasgow urban design panel and in pre application discussions, the design was no considered bold but supported by all and accepted as quite extraordinary. When Alan Dunlop explained the concept supporting the design, the Glasgow and city centre context and his material considerations ( much of which he seems to have set out above) it was considered as remarkable. It easily secured planning approval. It was topped out later by the then Lord Provost. I am not surprised that it went on to win a number of major awards including the architecture grand prix at the Scottish Awards and was listed within the top ten buildings in Scotland in the last fifty years.

It is a remarkable building and one that requires due respect.

Andrew Taylor
#33 Posted by Andrew Taylor on 13 Mar 2021 at 22:40 PM
Radisson is one of Glasgow's great hotel buildings.The proposals by Maith do much to destroy the integrity of the existing. Professor Dunlop's building is great. BUT.....whilst i respect and feel the obligation of architects to contribute to wider society and placemaking every day, i can't help but feel this discussion serves mainly to present architects as disillusioned and self serving, detached from the needs of those who are ultimately their clients. It is pleasing to see an alternative design by one of our professions most accomplished which shows how it could be done better. I applaud that. But lets always remember that no other profession would so publicly defacate our peers and question why that is, and what ultimately it does to our profession. Cheers.

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