Glasgow fulfils high expectations
In 1994 AJ acted as host at the Royal Academy party to announce the winner of the City of Architecture 1999 competition, fought fiercely between Edinburgh, Liverpool and Glasgow. It was a great party - especially for the Glaswegian delegation. That was an age ago, and much has changed. The Arts Council, the architecture panel of which was responsible for initiating and providing seedcorn funding for the year, has undergone major changes. Glasgow has been riven with political upheavals, while Scotland is about to get a real taste of devolution. And of course the government has changed.
Amid all this, expectations of the Glasgow event remained high, both in the city and among the architectural media, not least because one of our own, journalist and author Deyan Sudjic, beat stiff opposition to become director of the project. We all wanted him to succeed, but the possibility of failure added piquancy to the situation. It is fair to say that not everybody in Glasgow wanted that success, and it has been a hearts-and-minds battle for the project team to convince the sceptics that the event was really going to happen, and that it would have real significance.
Two other important victories were finding the cash for two physical projects: the restoration of the Mackintosh Lighthouse building in the city centre, and the 'Homes for the Future' project undertaken by a variety of housing developers and high-quality architects. This is only part of the story, however. A cursory glance at the programme for the year reveals a most extraordinary range of exhibitions, educational initiatives and international events, of a breadth and depth never previously seen in Britain. The Arts Council can be proud of the outcome. I shall certainly be returning to Glasgow several times this year, with the rias convention at the end of May set to be a blockbuster, and the award of the Stirling prize in the Lighthouse a suitably impressive climax. See you there.