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Glasgow Tower Building

Pacific Quay Building: Science Centre design by Richard Horden / BDP

6 Nov 2013

Glasgow Tower

Glasgow Science Centre rotating tower to reopen after £1.8m revamp

Scotland’s tallest free-standing building will be fully operational and open to visitors once again next summer.

This is good news as so many people on our tours ask about it and by extension surely huge numbers of visitors to the city are puzzled by it. Perhaps it was a step too far, a fanciful gimmick.

The blurb at the time said 30% less steel was used for the tower due to it being able to rotate thus allowing less drag from the prevailing wind. But how does that make sense, it was surely (also) designed to stand up when not rotating ie engineers always cover themselves, so how did it save steel? If the claim was true then surely it would have blown over in a severe storm.

Glasgow Tower, which has been closed for the past two years, has undergone a £1.8 million renovation meaning it will be able to turn 360 degrees, giving people a panoramic view of the city.

The £9 million, 417ft-tall structure has operated only intermittently since the Science Centre opened in 2001.

But the Glasgow Tower will be reopened and fully operational next summer, bosses at Glasgow Science Centre have insisted.

Though no precise date has been specified, this tall building could be open in time for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, which will run between July 23 and August 3.

Glasgow Tower photos from 10 Feb 2011

Glasgow Tower Building Glasgow Tower Glasgow Tower Building
Science Centre at Pacific Quay building design by Richard Horden / BDP photos © Adrian Welch

Location: southwest Glasgow

Address: Glasgow Science Centre, 50 Pacific Quay, G51 1EA

Telephone: 0871 540 1000

Tower Design: Richard Horden Architects; Building Design Partnership – BDP Architects

Glasgow Tower pictures from 2002:

Glasgow Tower Glasgow Science Centre Richard Horden
Science Centre at Pacific Quay building design by Richard Horden / BDP images by Keith Hunter from BDP Architects

Science Centre at Pacific Quay building: Description

Richard Horden is an English architect and yachtsman. Horden became well-known in the Eighties for light simple buildings that used yacht technology and yacht iconology. His modern rectilinear buildings were part of the Hi-Tech style that swept England, key architects being Richard Rogers, Norman Foster and Chris Wilkinson.

Glasgow Tower
Science Centre building photograph © 2007 Jason Baxter

Richard Horden Architects tried to transfer the elegance of sailing and the beauty and technology of the modern aircraft into architecture, in a way reminiscent of architect Le Corbusier’s extolling of the modern technology of cars and planes. However, unlike Le Corbusier, Richard Horden aimed for light prefabricated buildings.

BDP Architects Glasgow Science Centre Richard Horden BDP Architects
Science Centre building design images © Adrian Welch

Glasgow Tower architects : BDP

Enterainment / Educational Buildings at Pacific Quay / Prince’s Dock:
Science Centre Glasgow + Glasgow Tower + Glasgow Imax

European Millennium Tower Competition
Richard Horden Architects were awarded first prize for their ‘Wing Tower’ but controversially the project was essentially taken over by BDP Architects, Glasgow.

Glasgow Tower Richard Horden Architects Glasgow Tower Richard Horden
Pacific Quay structure images © Adrian Welch

The brief required a 100 metre high tower at Pacific Quay. The Tower was to include a viewing platform, restaurant and exhibition space. Richard Horden worked with aeronautical engineer Peter Heppel, to design a vertical wing that rotated with the wind direction. Being visible for miles around, it allows Glaswegians to tell which way the wind is blowing! The Glasgow Tower was the first of its kind to rotate to reduce the aerodynamic forces on the structure.

The lead architect practice is Richard Horden, based in London, England, UK.

Richard Horden Glasgow Science Centre BDP BDP Architects
Pacific Quay high-rise structure images © Adrian Welch

Glasgow Tower Competition
Duffy & Batt Architects’ Glasgow Tower Competition entry:

Glasgow Tower Competition
Pacific Quay tall structure design image from Duffy & Batt

“a pre-millennium wheel vertical ferris wheel (paternoster) made it to the shortlisted 12 of 350 open pan European entries”.

Tallest buildings in Scotland

Office and Flats Tower, Leith, designed by Terry Farrell & Partners on the Edinburgh waterfront at the Western Harbour.

Edinburgh’s Leith Docks are set to become a mini-Manhattan, complete with Scotland’s two tallest buildings and a Guggenheim museum. Forth Ports has revealed plans to build two 35-storey towers as part of the regeneration of Leith port’s Edinburgh Harbour.

The company is also in discussions with the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation about building a museum at the port. The two towers would stretch 420 feet into the air, making them three feet taller than the Millennium Tower at Glasgow Science Centre – currently Scotland’s tallest structure. They will dwarf Scotland’s previous tallest buildings, the 31-storey flats in Bluevale Street and Whitevale Street in Glasgow’s Gallowgate, which are both 298 ft tall.

Glasgow walking tours

Glasgow Tower Revolution

The revolving Glasgow Tower – which cost £10m and is Scotland’s tallest free-standing structure – could soon be reopened with the huge ball bearing due to be fitted this week. The Glasgow Science Centre tower at has been in operation for less than 100 days since opening in late 2001.
Aug 2003

Glasgow Tower Repair
Repairs to this innovative tall structure at Pacific Quay delayed for months by a row over faults, keeping it closed since Feb 2002.
Sep 2002

Richard Horden is not only a key English architect but internationally known.

Historic Glasgow : best buildings of the past


Glasgow Architecture

Major Strathclyde Building Designs – selection:

To the west of the site is Pacific Quay Hub

Across the River Clyde is the Glasgow Moat House Hotel

Dalmarnock Tower

Glasgow tower blocks

The Glasgow Tower is the only building in the world capable of turning 360 degrees from the ground up. The aerodynamic structure allows the entire building to turn and face the wind, thus reducing wind resistance.There is a two and a half minute ride to the top but it has been plagued with problems so call before you visit.

Glasgow Building Designs

Contemporary Glasgow Property Designs – recent architectural selection below:

Ingram Street Property Development
65-97 Ingram Street Glasgow, Merchant City
image courtesy of Artisan Real Estate
65-97 Ingram Street Glasgow

The Foundry Cathcart housing development
The Foundry Cathcart housing development
image courtesy of Cala Homes (West)
The Foundry Cathcart housing development

Comments / photos for the Glasgow Tower Architecture – Pacific Quay tall building design by Richard Horden / BDP page welcome.