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Radisson SAS Hotel, Glasgow

  • Architect:
    Gordon Murray & Alan Dunlop Architects
  • Award Type:
    Best Commercial Building 2003
  • Location: Overseas
Radisson SAS Hotel, Glasgow


Overseas Over €3,000,000

A site that had been derelict for 15 years,in an area where people didn't want to walk at night,has become a symbol of urban regeneration.The 250-bedroom hotel and conference centre is arranged around a courtyard in a simple,U-shaped building.

The interior is cool,crisp and controlled,but it is the green mask it wears that lends this hotel its 'pop'character.The swoosh of the giant copper screen,with its great 'window on the world',also evokes an image of flight or the faint echo of Glasgow's ship-building heritage.It is all too rare to find such a sensibility at work in the field of commercial architecture.

Architect’s Comment
Following the successful outcome of the Design Competition in 1998 the Architects were commissioned by a London Developer to develop and instigate the scheme.The Architects were to remain responsible for all the design works including shell,interiors
and the FF +E relative to public spaces.

The Client ’s brief was for a 250 bedroom 5-Star Hotel with associated public spaces for guests,a business facility including a number of multi-purpose meeting rooms along with function accommodation including a number of varying sized rooms and bars.

The site is in the heart of Glasgow ’s City Centre,adjacent to Glasgow Central Station and forms the first development linking the City Centre to Glasgow ’s Financial District. The site afforded many practical challenges to be addressed in the construction techniques,not least the proximity of Glasgow ’s low level train line,which added to the complexity of the large steel structures cantilevered from the reinforced concrete frame,in that the entire upper building is isolated from the basement and ground floors structurally. The approximate gross floor area is 20,931 square metres.

Although the west end of Argyle Street was seedy and the site derelict,they recognised that as one of the city ’s oldest thoroughfares it still retained some character and a median height of twenty metres which was evident,right through its length.This height was set by the extent the fire ladder could reach in Victorian Glasgow.A screen to the front would allow the Architects to respect and continue this media height and the scale of the thoroughfare but build a potentially seven or eight story building behind.Copper was chosen because the Architects wanted to use an "indigenous"Glasgow material but in a dynamic way.

As a counterpoint to the flexible and lightweight screen,the main part of the hotel was designed to be solid and monolithic to compliment the copper,so slate was used.In between the monolithic residential accommodation and lightweight frontage.

The Architects squeezed an "internal Street"atrium containing the hotel ’s reception and bars and restaurants,so that this 5 storey high space could be something more than the conventional square and regular atrium space.The back of the copper wall is faceted so that visitors could view slithers of the railway bridge and interesting buildings on the north of Argyle Street from various points in the hotel,like from the main feature stair.

Clients’ Comment
The site occupies an important strategic location in the city centre,with better communication links than the competition,and within easy walking distance of the main shopping precinct,principal rail station and nightlife. We selected the architects for the project based upon several factors.However,it was their unbounded enthusiasm in their work and their absolute faith that this site could accommodate a really important building,that won us over.

Now that the project is complete,our faith in the architects has been found to be more than justified.The building is already becoming a landmark in the city with many customers remarking on the quality of the design. While all of the functional parts of the hotel more than satisfy all of the operator ’s requirements,it is the lobby atrium space that seems to impress most.It is a space of such grandeur,proportion and character that was to an extent completely unforeseeable from the plans as the design developed.Behind the protective shield of the copper wall lies an oasis of calm,where people like to be.

What better way to attract customers to the newest hotel in Glasgow ?