Campaigners criticize demolition plans for two Glasgow landmarks
The Edinburgh-based company is behind the masterplan proposal for both Tay House – which was refurbished only last year – and Richard Seifert’s mixed-use Elmbank Gardens office complex across Bath Street, which is described in an advisory document as being “under construction”. Increasingly ‘outdated’.
Proposals put up for consultation this month include leveling both the Tay House and a three-storey block at Elmbank Gardens to make space for a 600-bed student housing scheme as part of an initial phase.
A public park elevated above the adjacent M8 motorway, together with the residences, offices, leisure spaces and shops on the site of Tay House, forms part of Phase Two of the high-rise scheme prepared for London and Scottish Property Investment Management (LSPEEM).
According to the developer, demolition could begin in late 2025.
Kieran Dick Doyle, of the Architects for Climate Action Network (ACAN) in Scotland, described early concepts for the scheme as being too large and causing environmental problems, criticizing LSPIM’s description of the demolition proposals as “sustainable”.
“This is a large-scale development that uses aspirational terminology to disguise the developer’s lack of willingness to address its core heritage and environmental responsibilities,” he said.
“The information released by the developer does not show any understanding of, or lessons learned from, the mistakes of Glasgow’s rolling urban past.”
Scott Macaulay, founder of the School of Anthropocene Architecture and member of ACAN Scotland, added that the loss of another important building in Glasgow runs counter to the city’s ambition to become net zero by 2040.
He said: “The appetite for demolition in Glasgow and across the UK is growing at a relentless pace, calling into question how planning decisions will be made during the climate and housing crisis.”
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The circular Building Alliance report shows that the EU27 and UK construction sector is on track to blow the 1.5°C carbon budget by around 2026 unless current standards change. We have about 1,000 days to reimagine architecture and building for a livable and just future, and that can’t seem like a continuation of demolition defaults.
“(These) futures contracts will look like an adjustment, a large-scale retrofit, an oversight, and a slow down of the sector.”
Under the Paris Agreement, the UK government committed to limit temperature rises to within 1.5°C from pre-industrial levels and “well below” 2°C. Macaulay said current construction levels could exceed that number.
Tay House, which was completed in the 1990s, recently underwent a £3m refurbishment, according to Scottish Construction Now. Architects Michael Laird worked on this redesign, which included renaming the structure as “300 Bath Street”.
We have about 1,000 days to reimagine architecture
Throughout its life the building has been home to the Royal Bank of Scotland, Barclay Securities and the Criminal Injury Compensation Board, as well as the University of Glasgow.
The adjacent Elmbank Gardens, which includes offices and a hotel, was completed in 1973 to designs by architect Syifert Centerpoint and was intended to be part of a wider master plan for the area between Anderston and Charing Cross.
On an advisory website, LSPIM says Michael Laird Architects’ latest scheme will “enhance” street edges, introduce more active facades, and improve pedestrian access around the site, which will become a gateway to Charing Cross station from nearby Sauchiehall Street and Bath Street. .
A detailed planning application is due to be submitted in early 2024.
Michael Laird has been contacted for comment. LSPIM declined to comment.