George Square Glasgow Revamp, Architects, Design Teams, Scottish Civic Contest, Buildings Photos

George Square Glasgow Renewal Competition

Civic Centre – Pictures + Redevelopment News, Strathclyde, western Scotland

30 Oct 2015

George Square Survey

The public is being asked for their views on the future of Glasgow’s civic square, reports the Glasgow Evening Times today.

George Square Survey

The SNP has raised a motion calling on the local authority to consider the views of city dwellers before any decisions are made about George Square.

It has launched an online survey – George Square Survey – which is being shared on the SNP Group’s Facebook page and Twitter account.

The idea is yet to be costed but it could pave the way for a long overdue facelift for the area after a controversial £15 million competition to redesign the square was abandoned by former council leader Gordon Matheson when the judging panel rejected his preferred option.

The survey page has this statement: “The SNP Group on Glasgow City Council has proposed to create a civic space in George Square, while also developing a new event space for the city centre. There has long been a desire to see George Square improved for the benefit of citizens and, should the voters of Glasgow decide, an SNP administration post-2017 will work to improve George Square.

The purpose of this survey is to gather the opinions and thoughts of those who know, use and love George Square. The questions are clear and unambiguous.”

Link: George Square Survey article in the Evening Times

24 Aug 2015
The RIAS has warned Glasgow City Council not to delay the long-awaited renovation of the city’s centrepiece civic square after fresh stumbling blocks to the project emerged, reports the Architects Journal.

In 2013 the architecture competition-winning vision by John McAslan + Partners for a £15million revamp was ditched by city council leader Gordon Matheson who claimed the high-profile scheme lacked public support.

Following last week’s news that Matheson is intending to step down in September, RIAS secretary and treasurer Neil Baxter has called on his successor to prioritise completing the square.

Funding for George Square project is linked to the delayed Buchanan Galleries tax increment finance scheme.

27 Sep 2013

Revised George Square Revamp

George Square Renewal News

On Sunday George Square will reopen to the public. The grass beds have been re-instated and the unloved red surface removed, reports the Evening Times today. The new ground surgface is made of speckled grey resin. The grassed areas can be covered up to allow large scale events to be held in the square, and the turf will be relaid around four times a year.

George Square Glasgow – external link.

16 Jul 2013
George Square Upgrade

Work to upgrade George Square in advance of the Commonwealth Games will begin this week. Over the coming weeks, the red Tarmac will be dug up and replaced with a more muted grey surface, the statues will be cleaned and two new grassy areas introduced. Glasgow City Council said the square will be back in full use by Remembrance Sunday in November, when there is a service at the Cenotaph. They insist the project will have the area looking its best when the city is in the world spotlight next year.

29 Apr 2013
George Square Crime

Major Crimes Unit to probe complaint over Matheson’s George Square role. The Labour leader of Glasgow City Council is to be investigated by the Major Crimes Unit over alleged misconduct during the £100,000 contest to redesign George Square, Police Scotland confirmed last night, reports the Glasgow Herald: – external link.

Last week the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS), which ran the contest, lodged a complaint against Matheson with the Public Standards Commissioner, suggesting he repeatedly violated the Councillors’ Code of Conduct.

Matheson faces claims of interfering in a legally defined procurement process, bias, attempted staff coercion and trying to “steer” the contest in favour of his preferred design.

The RIAS complaint included a statement from Kerr Robertson, who until his recent retirement was the council’s lead architect.

Despite the design contest being governed by strict European Union law, Robertson claims he was told six weeks before the judging officially began that Matheson would choose the winner.

Robertson also claims he was told his job would be “to ensure the other jury members would fall into line with this”.

21 Mar 2013

Redevelopment of George Square in Glasgow

Glasgow city councillors are preparing to look at a more modest plan for a re-vamp of George Square. It suggests the removal of the red tarmac, with more grassy areas established. A second phase would then follow, after the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The total budget will be £15m. Councillors will vote on the plan later.

The council promises public consultation on the final surface and treatment under the new proposals. The scheduled completion date for phase one, in September 2013, would allow for suitable commemoration of Remembrance Day and enable the city’s Christmas events to return to the square this year.

15 Mar 2013

George Square Revamp Report

Redevelopment of George Square, Glasgow – Design Competition

Wonderfully frank report from the RIAS Consultancy about this scandal that wasted the time and money of so many architects and damaged Glasgow’s reputation.

We’ve extracted what we think are the salient points:

The Judging
“From the outset the Council Leader, Councillor Matheson, was most insistent that he would be among the judges of the competition…”

Pre – Judging Briefing
“The original proposal by the RIAS was that David Mackay should serve as chair of the judges. At the preliminary briefing meeting on Friday 11 th January 2013 however Councillor Matheson indicated that , as t he idea for the competition was his and this project would be one of his most significant endeavours as Leader, he would chair the process.”

First Judging Meeting (Monday 14th January)
“…Councillor Matheson indicated that he would prefer not to proceed as Neil Baxter suggested but rather to indicate his own thoughts to the judges.”

“…However, 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. His abandonment of the judging process at the conclusion of the Wednesday meeting led to much negative press. Unfortunately because they were still involved in a confidential process and they are all consummate professionals, the judges were unable to give their side of the story, even though one press cartoon depicted them wearing dunce’s hats.”

“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“.

Read the RIAS report in full:

George Square Revamp Report

This section is also interesting, separated out here as it is purely about a matter that is not proven:

“The Council had issued invitations to a press launch to announce the George Square decision. The rescinding of this invita tion brought a flurry of press speculation, perhaps most notably an article in the Glasgow Herald on Friday 18th January which indicated that it was unlikely that any of the submissions for the competition would be selected. The article did not quote any specific source for this speculation.

An Evening Times article on Monday 21 st January also surmised that the project would not be proceeding, suggesting that the negative public response to the removal of statuary and greenery from the square had resulted in a re-think on the part of the Council. Again no specific source was given. It is worth noting that if the source for either of these pieces was the Council itself, such speculation, before the formal conclusion of the judging process, would be a breach of European procurement rules which disallow a client from publicly speculating about an outcome in a way which might influence a judging process which was still in train.”

28 Jan 2013

George Square Revamp

Philstinism in Glasgow
Article in the Herald: How Gordon Matheson, The Labour leader of Glasgow City Council, scrapped George Square revamp when judges ignored his choice.

The Herald’s Tom Gordon reports that Gordon Matheson appeared to pre-empt the judging process by saying he thought Option 6, by architects Burns & Nice, should win.

He strongly disliked Option 2 by John McAslan & Partners. Apparently he scrapped the project in “a fit of pique” when Option 2 was declared winner by the disobedient judges.

26 Jan 2013

BBC interview about the George Square debacle – with Penny Lewis on BBC Scotland, to listen select the last 9 minutes of this morning radio news programme, finished at 10am, 26 Jan

22 Jan 2013

George Square Competition Winner

John McAslan & Partners win…but the design might not be built

JMP wins George Square Competition

The winner of the competition to redesign George Square in Glasgow is now out, but had been delayed after the jury was unable to reach a decision. But now the council say that the winning design might not be realised – why?

Jury members had struggled to agree on a winning design and late last week the possibility of no winner emerged.

Competition organisers owe it to entrants to honour their commitment.

It is a little embarrassing these high profile competitions that are reneged on:

in Glasgow alone we have the debacle over the

Glasgow Bridge, won by Richard Rogers and others, then the Homes for the Future 2, won by Zaha Hadid Architects or was it RMJM (!)

and in Wales the disastrous Cardiff Bay Opera House won again by Zaha Hadid Architects.

For any entrants there was of course already a clear warning that this may happen: back in 2005 the Cafe in the Square competition took up a lot of architects resources, only to be kicked into the long grass. That is fine for an ideas competition of course but not when there are promises that the winning design will be built.

Questions need to be asked.

There are a many more examples of failed competitions in the UK, comments welcome.

Scheme 2 – George Square design by John McAslan & Partners:

George Square proposal
images courtesy of architects practice

Release from the winning architects:

“JMP has won the George Square competition and looks forward to working with the Glasgow City Council to progress the redevelopment of this important civic space. JMP beat off Agence Ter (France), Gustafson Porter, jmarchitects, James Corner Field Operations (USA) and Burns + Nice”.

The Future for George Square in Glasgow

Glasgow City Council decision to drop the plans for a radical revamp of George Square could be termed positive, in that they are repsonding to public sentiment, but negative in that once again architects have been led down the garden path with significant resources spent. Of course many architects enjoy the creative energy of competitions so one can’t overdo the criticism but when the type is not an ‘ideas competition’ then it does show the organisers in a bad light. So what happens next?

The authority said the space would be given a “substantial facelift” instead, after significant opposition emerged to proposals for a redesign.

The new plan will see the existing statues and grassed areas retained and the red tarmac replaced.

The council said it would not be proceeding with the £15m contract for the design by John McAslan and Partners.

Glasgow City Council leader Gordon 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.”

Cllr Matheson said the scaled-back refurbishment would be carried out in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Cllr Gordon Matheson Cllr Matheson said he was “listening” to the people of Glasgow. “Only if there is public demand thereafter, will we consider a radical change.”

Their designs have been on display at The Lighthouse for the past few weeks, where members of the public have been able to register their comments.

The judging panel comprised of David Mackay, MBM Architects Barcelona and Professor Andy McMillan, former head of Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art.

They were joined by David Harding, former head of Environmental Art, Glasgow School of Art, Geoff Ellis, director of DF Concerts and Cllr Matheson.

The technical advisor of the panel was Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer, The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

The panel’s decision had been due to be announced on Friday but was delayed after judges could not reach agreement.

The council confirmed on Monday that they had chosen John McAslan and Partners but would not be proceeding with the contract.

Cllr Matheson said: “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 decision by the council to ditch a radical revamp came after significant opposition to the scheme.

Prof Alexander Stoddart, the Queen’s Sculptor in Scotland, was highly critical of plans to remove statues from the square.

In a letter to the council he said: “The Taliban in Afghanistan target the rock-cut Buddhas of Bamiyan with exactly the same sense of resentment against their perpetual peace, as certain throughsters in Glasgow seek to expel the statues from George Square.”

Criticism also came from Glasgow SNP MSP Sandra White who lodged a petition at the Scottish Parliament which condemned “the shortage of information and severe lack of public consultation” over the proposals.

An online petition, calling for George Square to be restored to “its former grassy glory”, also attracted thousands of supporters and a rally against the revamp was being planned for 2 February.

However architect John McAslan, who’s design won the competition, said he was “bemused” by the decision because his plans were not radical but quite traditional.

Speaking on Newsnight Scotland on Monday night, he said: “Our design keeps the sculpture in more or less the same position. It retains and reworks the landscape and it gets rid of the tarmac so I’m bemused by the whole thing because it’s really quite a traditional and understated scheme.”

Mr McAslan said that despite the “politically motivated” decision to scrap the scheme, he is “determined” to see his design come to fruition. “I’ve written to Mr Matheson because I’d like to meet him and discuss how we can proceed and develop the project in consultation with the people of Glasgow.”

George Square Redevelopment News

George Square Redevelopment

In the early 1980’s, talented young architects in the Soviet Union secretly gathered to undertake important civic and public projects they were excluded from entering in the culturally repressive USSR. A group of 20 very talented young Scottish Architects, including Anna Gibb and Ross Anderson who represented the UK in the British Pavilion at the 2012 Venice Biennale, met for a day to consider the future of George Square. 25 Jan 2013

18 Jan 2013

George Square Renewal Competition

George Square Contest News Update

Plans to announce the winner of a competition to redesign George Square in Glasgow have been delayed after the jury was unable to reach a decision.

Reports suggest 2 of the 6 designs have been discarded with serious concerns about the remaining 4, with the distinct possibility of no winner.

Jury members have, so far, been unable to agree on a winning design and are not able to meet again until next week.

10 Jan 2013

George Square Competition

George Square Redevelopment Design Contest

Proposed Designs For George Square Redevelopment Go On Public Display

All designs anonymous

Scheme 1:

George Square design Glasgow
images courtesy of architects practice

Scheme 3:

Scheme 4:

George Square proposal
images courtesy of architects practice

Scheme 5:

Scheme 6:

George Square design Glasgow
images courtesy of architects practice

Designs by six shortlisted companies taking part in the international competition to redevelop George Square went on public display on Wednesday, 9 January at The Lighthouse.

The £15m project caught the imagination of the international design community with Glasgow City Council receiving 35 submissions to redevelop the square from as far afield as Australia, the USA and Sweden.

The six short-listed submissions are by:

• Agence Ter (France)
• Burns + Nice (UK)
• Gustafson Porter (UK)
• James Corner Field Operations (USA)
• jmarchitects (UK)
• John McAslan & Partners (UK)

The competition winner will have the prestigious task of working in partnership with the council to develop the final design for the square which will further enhance Glasgow’s reputation as an international city.

The six designs will be considered by a judging panel and the winner will be announced on Friday, 18 January.

The judging panel comprises: David Mackay, partner, MBM Architects Barcelona; Professor Andy McMillan, former head of Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art; David Harding, former head of Environmental Art, Glasgow School of Art; Geoff Ellis, director of DF Concerts; and Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council. The panel’s technical advisor is Neil Baxter, secretary and treasurer, RIAS.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “The calibre of the six designs is very high and I’m sure whichever design team is chosen, Glaswegians will have a George Square to be proud of again.

“Each bidder has a wealth of international experience and all six have delivered a number of eye-catching civic spaces acclaimed by their peers and public alike.

“This redevelopment is a hugely exciting moment in the growth of the city as Glasgow strives to forge ahead and meet its future challenges.

“The prestige of the companies competing to redevelop George Square is a clear indication of just how iconic it is around the world.

“It is absolutely essential we choose the right team to create a new George Square – a George Square fit for the 21st Century. I look forward to working closely with the winning design team to develop their design and give the people and businesses of Glasgow the George Square they deserve.”

It is anticipated that redevelopment work will be carried out in two stages, with the first stage being completed before the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Funding of up to £5m from the overall investment programme will enable early delivery of phase one of the George Square redevelopment with an additional £10m assumed within the Buchanan Quarter TIF Business Case.

George Square Competition Exhibition

The Lighthouse, 11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow G1 3NU

Opening times:
Mon – Sat 10.30 – 17.00
Sun 12 – 17.00

Details on the six finalists

Agence Ter (lead consultant) – has an international reputation for innovative and creative public realm landscape and urban designs including major international projects such as Les Halles in Paris.

Part of the design team will be Hengehan Peng architects (Dublin/Ireland & Berlin/Germany). The practice was founded by Shih-Fu Peng and Roisin Heneghan in New York in 1999 and has collaborated with many leading designers and engineers on a wide range of international projects – including the Grand Egyptian Museum, the Central Park Bridges at the 2012 Olympic Park, the Giant’s Causeway visitor centre and a library and School of Architecture for the University of Greenwich, London.

Also included are Buro Happold (civil, structural & services engineers) and Gardner & Theobold (cost consultants) Bartenbach LichtLabor (lighting consultants) and Atmos (art / architect).

Burns+Nice (lead consultant) – landscape architects/urban designers. Responsible for many recent public realm works including Leicester Square in London, the Millennium Quarter in St Helier and a series of new public spaces in and around London such as St Martins Courtyard in Covent Garden, the new precinct outside the Old Baillie and Bow Courtyard. They are currently working on a similar project for Omonoia Square in Athens. Key members of this team will include Halcrow, Rybka Services and Infrastructure, ARUP Lighting and Gardner & Theobold.

Gustafson Porter (lead consultant) – their work is mainly public realm. They have designed and delivered award winning projects at many scales, from memorial fountains to squares, gardens and parks in the UK and abroad. These include the Old Market Square in Nottingham, completed in 2007, Woolwich Squares in London, Westergasfabriek Culture Park in Amsterdam, Parco CityLife in Milan and Shoreline Walk in Beirut.

James Corner Field Operations (lead consultant) – an award winning New York firm of landscape architects/urban designers who will lead a team which includes local architects Gillespies, Make Architects, Buro Happold and Speirs & Major.

Projects by JCFO include the design of the High Line in New York City; London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park; a redevelopment of Earl’s Court; Chicago’s historic Navy Pier; a new waterfront city for Shenzhen, China; a master plan for Seattle’s Central Waterfront; The Race Street Pier in Philadelphia; Hong Kong’s Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront; and the design of the Civic Center Parks in Santa Monica.

JM Architects (lead consultant) – an award winning Architecture firm with offices in Glasgow. They are leading a multidiscipline team which includes Edinburgh based Graeme Massie Architects (architect of the year award, Scottish Design Awards 2010). The team has experience in delivering innovative and robust architectural and landscape projects. Recent work includse Glasgow School of Art, Phase 1 and public realm in collaboration with Steven Holl Architects, Hillhead Primary School, and the redevelopment of Bonn Square in Oxford.

John McAslan and Partners (lead consultant) – a multi-award winning architecture, urban design and landscape design practice. They have experience in delivering multi-discipline projects including the redevelopment of the Grade I listed King’s Cross Station which included significant public realm and infrastructure. They were master planner and design architect of the Stanislavsky Factory development; a mix of reusing of historic buildings tied together with a new landscape design in Moscow.

9 + 4 Jan 2013 + 26 + 16 + 14 Nov 2012

George Square Design Competition News

George Square Redevelopment Contest Shortlist

Glasgow City Council reveal the six shortlisted practices selected:

John McAslan
Gustafson Porter
JM Architects
James Corner Field Operations
Burns + Nice
Agence Ter.

Finalised plans were submitted on 7 Jan 2013.

Feature published on AJ website on 9 Jan around 9am, with commentary provided by Alan Dunlop – he picks up on the issue of the existing monuments – some of the six designs move the bronzes, some retain and some move them. He also points out the wisdom in locating any pavilions on the north side of the square where they might get some sunlight, especially in the winter months.

The shortlisted designs will appear at The Lighthouse from 14 Jan.

The winner is due to be announced on 18 Jan 2013.

The six shortlisted practices are John McAslan, JM Architects, Gustafson Porter, James Corner Field Operations, Burns + Nice and Agence Ter.

There were 39 expressions of interest.

14 Sep 2012

George Square Design Competition

George Square Redevelopment Contest

A design competition has been launched to create a stunning new look for Glasgow’s George Square.

Glasgow City Council is seeking high quality design submissions for the prestigious job of creating a George Square fit for the 21st Century.

A £15m project has been launched to redevelop the square and create a space of outstanding design quality that further enhances Glasgow’s reputation as an international city.

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of the Council, said: “It is time for George Square to regain its status as not only Glasgow’s premier urban space, but Scotland’s premier urban space.

“There are competing demands which are placed on the square. This year alone, George Square has hosted the Queen on her diamond jubilee tour as well as the Olympic torch and will be the focal point for the homecoming of Scotland’s Olympians and Paralympians. People also use it as a place to sit around watching life pass by. Currently it is not equipped to perform either of those roles particularly well. We need to be more ambitious that that. As leader of the council, I want to give the people of Glasgow the square they deserve. To make that happen we have now implemented an ambitious programme of work.”

As part of the design process, the council is undertaking a wide-ranging consultation with both the public and stakeholders, carried out in two phases. Phase one, which has now been completed, involved resident focus groups and in-depth stakeholder interviews, which played a role in establishing what the future vision of the square should be as well as the priorities in terms of the redevelopment.

The second phase of the consultation, taking place in December, aims to gather views from the public and other stakeholders on the potential designs which will be shortlisted.

Given the scale of the proposed transformation, statues and monuments – except the Cenotaph – will be removed, at least on a temporary basis, in order that the design and construction can be efficiently carried out. This will also allow a comprehensive conservation plan of statues to be implemented in partnership with Historic Scotland.

George Square Glasgow building : Queen Street Station

George Square Redevelopment

George Square Renewal

Teams are starting to form for this £15m project. The proposed revamp of George Square is to “bring it up to an international standard”. The PQQ document sets out the four phases and the impetus for redevelopment is the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

A frequent comment by visitors on our Glasgow Walking Tours is ‘why are there no trees?’ The design teams will no doubt be looking back to the Cafe in the Square competition and what feedback came from it.


George Square

George Square Cenotaph, looking north
George Square
George Square Cenotaph image © Adrian Welch

g1 George Square building : g1 – Former Post Office building redevelopment

9 George Square
architect: James Miller, 1923
redevelopment by gm+ad architects, Glasgow
George Square Glasgow
9 George Square – image © Adrian Welch

George Square Building : Glasgow City Chambers

George Square entry facade image © Adrian Welch

Glasgow Post Office

exterior photo © Adrian Welch

Looking towards square from northwest:
George Square
photo © Adrian Welch

Glasgow Cafe Design Contest : George Square Competition

Six George Square Submissions: Images online 28 May 2005

Glasgow cafe contest design by Block Nord Architects:
Glasgow Cafe Design Contest entry by Block Nord

Glasgow cafe contest design by Reiach and Hall Architects:
Glasgow Cafe contest design by Reiach and Hall Architects

Other architectural studios involved:

JM Architects


Studio Kap

Richard Murphy Architects

Glasgow Landscape Architecture

Buchanan Street


Glasgow Building Designs

Contemporary Glasgow Property Designs – recent architectural selection below:

Candleriggs Square Apartments Merchant City News
Candleriggs Square Apartments Merchant City, Glasgow
image courtesy of architects practice
Candleriggs Square Apartments Merchant City

Burrell Museum – Art Fund Museum Of The Year 2023
Burrell Museum Glasgow building interior
photo © Janie Airey Art Fund 2023
Burrell Museum

Comments / photos for the George Square Architecture page welcome