Radisson alterations to address capacity & accessibility
March 2 2021
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 new revolving door will be installed at Robertson Street to address current weather/wind tunnel effects
This is an iconic Glasgow building. Surprising and delightful in equal measure. Age aside, it should have some listed protection, in my opinion anyway...!
The big (light) blue wall?
The projecting box?
Mr Dunlop produced an amazing, original design and will welcome any alterations in the same way as a parent welcomes criticism of their child!
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!
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.
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.
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.
The big blue shield and its box is the hotel -- all the rest is just froth
#25. You colour blind?
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.
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.
It is a remarkable building and one that requires due respect.
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If it’s not broke why ‘fix’ it? There’s real potential to ruin something wonderful here.