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Glasgow appoints first ‘city urbanist’

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Glasgow City Council has appointed Mackintosh School of Architecture professor Brian Evans to the newly created role of city urbanist

The local authority said Evans would work with councillors, officers, designers and other parties to ‘enhance Glasgow’s approach to placemaking and connectivity’.

He will be employed by the council part-time, with a remit to ‘galvanise resources that already exist’ and create ‘an over-arching narrative’ for architecture in the Scottish city.

It is understood he will work an average of two days per week, reporting directly to the chief executive of the local authority and receiving a pro-rata salary equivalent to that of a deputy director working similar hours for the council.

Evans said: ‘It is characteristic of Glasgow to look forward and think creatively about the ways the city works for people.

‘We should think about the design of Glasgow as an international city, a metropolitan city and, most importantly, as the everyday city of residents, businesses and visitors.

‘I’m honoured to be asked to play a role and to take a strategic view on place, design and the city. I’ll be working alongside the city council and its partners to complement existing capacity, stretch thinking on design and help identify gaps in knowledge and understanding.’

Evans is a graduate of both the Glasgow School of Art and the University of Strathclyde, and worked for design firm Gillespies for 26 years until 2015.

He played a key role in the design and delivery of the Glasgow Public Realm Strategy in 1995.

Beyond Scotland, Evans has worked across three continents, leading winning bids to expand both Moscow in 2013 and Suzhou in China a year later.

A former deputy chair of Architecture and Design Scotland, he is now head of urbanism at the Glasgow School of Art.

Glasgow City Council said Evans’s new role would see him work with politicians and senior officers to develop an approach to ‘place quality’ in council plans.

Council leader Susan Aitken said: ‘Professor Brian Evans will make a great addition to the team as we take forward the next stage in the history of this great city.

‘Brian brings into the council a great understanding of our city formed over years in the private sector and a distinguished career in the academic sector and in promoting best practice in urban development and placemaking for the Scottish and UK governments and internationally.

‘There are great designers and planners working in Glasgow across the public and private sectors. The city government is committed to working with them to make Glasgow the best place it can be. We see this being delivered through a consistent and long-term commitment to placemaking and best use of the city’s assets. Brian’s appointment is an important step in delivering that.’

Renowned Scottish architect Alan Dunlop said: ‘Brian Evans is a much respected academic and professional so it sounds like a positive move for the city. I wish him well and look forward to seeing great things.’

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