GCHT Team:

Torsten Haak, Director & Company Secretary:

Torsten is an architecture, planning & conservation graduate originally from Germany, who has worked in heritage and conservation across Scotland since 1995 before becoming the first Director of Glasgow City Heritage Trust in 2007.

Torsten started his career as journeyman cabinetmaker in Hamburg before studying for a Diploma in Architecture and Town Planning first at Hamburg University and finally at Edinburgh College of Art. A two-year stint in Japan as an English teacher followed before he returned to Scotland to study for a MSc in European Urban Conservation at Dundee University. After a period as the Buildings Adviser for the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust and five years managing the Arbroath Townscape Heritage Initiative regeneration scheme, he started his work to set up the Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

For ten years Torsten was a Trustee of ICOMOS-UK and member of the World Heritage Committee, which followed five years with the Built Environment Forum Scotland as Trustee and Honorary Treasurer and one year as Trustee of the Council on Training in Architectural Conservation. Currently he is a Trustee of the Cultura Trust, Trustee and Honorary Treasurer of Europa Nostra UK and represents the UK as an Expert since 2008 and Vice-President since 2021 on the ICOMOS International Scientific Committee on Historic Towns and Villages.

Torsten is a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation, the Incorporation of Wrights at the Trades House of Glasgow, the Merchants House of Glasgow and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

Niall Murphy, Deputy Director:

Niall has nearly 20 years experience as an architect and is heavily involved in heritage, conservation and community issues in Glasgow being current Chair of Govanhill Baths Building Preservation Trust – the largest meanwhile use in Scotland – and Vice Chair for the Pollokshields Trust – a community anchor organisation set up following the ‘Make Your Mark’ East Pollokshields and Port Eglinton Charrette in 2016 which Niall helped secure funding for. Previously, Niall has been chair of Pollokshields Heritage, Planning Convener for Pollokshields Community Council and a member of the Glasgow Urban Design Panel. Between 2016 – 2018 he was invited by the Minister for Local Government and Housing to be a member of the Development Management Working Group for the Scottish Government’s Planning Review.

Niall has won the Glasgow Doors Open Day Excellence Award for Inspiring City Tour (2017), the Glasgow Doors Open Day Above and Beyond Award (2014), the Sir Robert Lorimer Award for Sketching (1996) and, in addition to nominations for Saltire Awards and GIA Awards was nominated for the Scottish Civic Trust’s My Place Award for Civic Champion in 2015. Niall regularly lectures on architecture, heritage and urban design issues.

Maggie Mercer, Business Manager: 

Maggie, a Biomedical Science graduate with a Postgraduate Certificate in Forensic Medicine, began working for the Trust in 2012. She has always had a keen interest in architecture and studied the subject whilst at University. She is continuing to follow her interests by studying various subjects including WW1:Trauma and Memory, Forensic Psychology and GDPR. Maggie has been in managerial roles for the past 16 years and is an affiliate member of the IHBC.

Gemma Wild, Heritage Manager (currently on maternity leave): 

Gemma has over 10 years experience protecting and celebrating the historic environment in the UK, and supporting others to develop skills and understanding within conservation and heritage contexts. After beginning her career in a planning consultancy, she moved to Glasgow in 2007 and has worked for the Scottish Civic Trust and the Scottish Waterways Trust delivering community engagement, interpretation and education projects helping communities unlock the benefits that the historic environment can offer. Gemma is an active Affiliate Member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC).

Rachel Kacir, Heritage Manager: 

Originally from Northern Ireland, Rachel first moved to Glasgow as a student, graduating in History and Politics. She then worked for the National Trust for Scotland (NTS) across a number of properties including Holmwood House, Kellie Castle, the David Livingstone Centre, Greenbank Garden and primarily the Tenement House. Rachel led on daily operations at these properties, welcoming visitors from across the world and managing teams of staff and volunteers. Whilst working for NTS Rachel studied part time for a Masters in Museum Studies from the University of St Andrews and was awarded a Distinction.

Rachel is particularly interested in social history and in providing opportunities for communities to engage with Glasgow’s incredible historic built environment in new and innovative ways. During her time at GCHT she has led on schemes including the Kids Heritage Trail series and the Scottish Design Award nominated Gallus Glasgow project, which used an 1864 map of the city as a jumping off point for exploring the Victorian era through animation, an interactive website, blogs and events.

Rachel works part-time, Wednesday – Friday.

Erin Walter, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer:

Erin is an Art Historian, who spent her undergraduate years at Franklin University in Lugano, Switzerland. She has also completed an MSc in Museum Studies from the University of Glasgow and an MLitt in Curatorial Practice (Contemporary Art) from Glasgow School of Art . During her MSc, Erin was an exhibition research and design intern at GCHT, with her exhibitions focused on Glasgow’s cinemas and cemeteries. She has since rejoined GCHT as Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. Alongside her work at the Trust she is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, centring her research on the documentation of performance art.


Silvia Scopa, Heritage Officer (Activities):

Silvia is a Museum Studies graduate with a major interest in social history and community engagement. After living in Italy and Spain, she moved to Glasgow ten years ago. Before working at Glasgow City Heritage Trust, she spent four years at the National Trust for Scotland.

She is the mind behind Ghost Signs of Glasgow and coordinated the project from 2019 to March 2021. During the past year she has enjoyed working on GCHT’s podcast, “If Glasgow’s Walls Could Talk”, and contributing to the event programme.

Although she has dipped her toe in various aspects of heritage and collections, her main goal has always been to find a link between communities and heritage and get people from every path in life to enjoy Glasgow’s rich history.

Taylor Cross-Whiter, Heritage Officer (Activities):

Taylor grew up moving between the UK, US and Denmark. As an undergraduate she studied History and received her BA in Portland, Oregon, before moving to Scotland to undertake a postgraduate degree in Architectural Conservation at the University of Edinburgh. Prior to joining GCHT she worked as the Technical Research Intern for Historic Environment Scotland’s Conservation Directorate. In 2017 she helped with organising Doors Open Day for Edinburgh and East Lothian, and has worked in a voluntary capacity for the National Trust for Scotland and done case work for the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland. Besides Glasgow’s many architectural gems, her favourite thing about the city is its vibrant music scene. 

Lesley Kerr, Conservation Advisor: 

Lesley is an architect with more than 25 years experience in building conservation in the UK. Over this time she has managed a wide range of conservation projects for Category A Listed buildings, with a focus on adapting and reusing redundant buildings. She gained her practical conservation knowledge at Simpson & Brown Architects in Edinburgh, where she was a Senior Associate, and has been practicing as a freelance consultant since 2011.

She has a particular interest in education and training and was a part-time design tutor at Strathclyde University DABS for many years. As a member of ICOMOS-UK, she has served on the Education and Training Committee and acted as an external reviewer for the World Monument Fund (WMF) Watchlist and for the UNESCO World Heritage List. She is a keen gardener and studied Horticulture and Garden History at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

Lesley is a Chartered Member of the RIBA and a member of RIAS, DOCOMOMO (Scotland), the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland and Scotland’s Garden & Landscape Heritage. Lesley joined GCHT in 2020 and provides building conservation support to the Grants Team two days per week.

Brittany Archibald, Heritage Officer (Grants):

Brittany has a BA in History and Political Science from the University of Toronto and a MSc from the University of Glasgow, which focused on modern Scottish history and the Highland Clearances. Between her degrees, she worked for the University of Toronto studying the food history and systems of Toronto as well as working at Heritage Toronto doing administration.

Before coming to GCHT, Brittany worked in the Heritage Directorate at Historic Environment Scotland. She has immense passion for built heritage, particularly how it allows people to engage with history. Outside of work you can find her playing with her cat Miso or trying out one of Glasgow’s many amazing restaurants.

Grace Gielink, Heritage Officer (Grants):

Grace grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she first developed an appreciation for architecture and urban planning after being surrounded by Cleveland’s rich industrial history and early 20th century building stock. As an undergraduate, she studied Politics and focused most of her research on local efforts to save historic buildings.

She first moved to Scotland in 2017 for postgraduate study in Architectural Conservation at the University of Edinburgh. After returning to the US, she worked in a traditional trades program carrying out wood window restoration, brick repointing, and basic carpentry repairs on buildings at risk in Massachusetts’ state and national parks. She then moved to Providence, Rhode Island to administer programs of the statewide nonprofit organisation for building conservation. Grace joined the GCHT team in 2022 and is excited to be back working in Scotland’s heritage sector.