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Stallan Brand’s Glasgow tower ditched for ‘economical’ redesign

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Stallan Brand’s concept for a hotel tower in central Glasgow was dropped in favour of a more ‘economical’ and ‘landmark’ scheme, according to the site’s developer  

Reworked plans featuring a 20-storey hotel at the end of Buchanan Street, the UK’s second-busiest shopping avenue, were given the green light earlier this month after the Scottish government said it had no objections to the proposals.

The recently approved tower was designed by South African practice MDS Architecture, alongside Glasgow-based Young and Gault, Alexander Macgregor and Angels in the Architecture. Once built, it will be the third-tallest building in Glasgow and the fifth biggest in Scotland.

Stallan Brand had drawn up an earlier, 17-storey scheme for the Clyde-side site, which won full planning in 2017. But developer CitiHome bought the site and decided to scrap the design in early 2018.

CitiHome chief executive Simon Lester told the AJ he chose to redesign the tower ‘to create something which is more of a landmark building in Glasgow’.

He said a three-storey structural façade extending above the tower in Stallan Brand’s design was ‘uneconomical’, adding: ‘It was the build cost [we objected to]. It was a very expensive, random thing to put up there.’

Stallan Brand’s approved scheme from 2017 (left) and MDS Architecture’s design from 2019 (right)

Stallan Brand’s approved scheme from 2017 (left) and MDS Architecture’s design from 2019 (right)

Stallan Brand’s approved scheme from 2017 (left) and MDS Architecture’s design from 2019 (right)

Defending the design, Stallan Brand founding partner Paul Stallan said: ‘Our approach was to develop a figurative architecture that contributed to the character of this location.

‘Simply presenting an extruded slab edge as the terminus of this view corridor, was, we felt, a massive missed opportunity.’

Stallan added: ‘The site is also within a conservation area and is unique in its expressive and diverse architecture. Our response was to present a new-build intervention that was similarly characterful, rather than simply an array of scaleless and regular windows.’

MDS was the first architect brought in to redesign the tower, and focused on carrying out CAD work. 

Glasgow-based Young and Gault was brought on board to provide local knowledge and context, while Alex Macgregor, a former planner and professor of architecture, was asked to help with heritage and planning issues.

David Gabriel, through his firm Angels In The Architecture, was brought on to develop the CitiHotel brand throughout the scheme. Gabriel previously worked with CitiHome on its flagship development in Gibraltar, when he was head of hospitality and leisure at MSMR.

The new design features a gym and meeting rooms on the first floor, apartment-style hotel rooms from the 2nd to 17th floors, a penthouse on the 18th floor and a plant room on the 20th floor.

The 19th floor will be dedicated to a rooftop bar, including an open-air balcony on a cantilevered glass ‘sky-deck’ looking over the River Clyde.

The Scottish government was notified of the plans for the development after Historic Environment Scotland objected to its construction, arguing that there would be ‘a detrimental impact on the setting of the A-listed St Enoch Square Underground Station’.

But on 7 November, the Scottish government told planners it would not object to the proposal, paving the way for permission to be granted.

Demolition of a building on site is expected to start in the new year, with construction set to begin by the middle of 2020.

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