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Glasgow's new practices: McGinlay Bell

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The AJ takes a look at Glasgow’s emerging architects, discovering how they have adapted and stayed motivated in a procurements system designed for big practices

Who are you?
We are McGinlay Bell. The directors are Brian McGinlay (left) and Mark Bell (right), who worked together at NORD for nine years. We have four full-time members of staff and two fifth-year Strathclyde University students working part time. 

When did you set up?
We fully set up in January 2016, and found our own little basement studio in the city centre.  

What was your breakthrough project?
We don’t feel we have broken through yet; that will take some time. We have built upon existing client relationships made from our days at NORD and, alongside new ones, these have generated exciting commissions. 

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Maryhill Locks, Glasgow, by McGinlay Bell

Source: Dapple Photography

Maryhill Locks, Glasgow, by McGinlay Bell

What are you currently working on?
In collaboration with Avanti Architects, we are working on the partial restoration of St Peter’s Seminary in Cardoss. Other jobs include a housing development in Maryhill, Glasgow, and the refurbishment of parts of the Glasgow Film Theatre.

How hopeful are you about your prospects as a young practice in Glasgow?
It is encouraging that many other young firms have been set up for a while now and others have recently opened. We believe architecture thrives from confidence in what you are doing; it’s nice that others are on the same journey as ourselves. 

It’s nice that others are on the same journey as ourselves

What is the biggest challenge facing your practice?
In terms of gaining new work, the bureaucracy of the procurement system. At present it is somewhat undemocratic and has been set up as a monopoly, meaning small or new practices have little chance in competing for large sectors of work.  

How will you ensure you remain profitable?
The architectural profession is tough. Our aim is to mitigate outgoing financial risks by keeping a watchful eye over our business and adopting good housekeeping across the board.  

Which architects inspire your practice and why?
Carmody Groarke, Caruso St John and Max Dudler. These practices constantly demonstrate and deliver a high quality of work, but equally all seem to enjoy testing their architectural ideas through means of building and the craft of making a building. 

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Axonometric, Kilmahew, St Peters seminary, Cardross, by McGinlay Bell

Source: Reigart Contracts

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