Global Glasgow


At the turn of the twentieth century the world’s attention was drawn to Glasgow for the International Exhibitions of 1888, 1901, 1911 – extravagant shows designed for education and entertainment. At that time, many architects of the city were looking beyond Glasgow for inspiration, benefitting from unprecedented opportunities of travel and study abroad.

Implemented in 1866, the City of Glasgow Improvement Act, initiated slum clearances and the demolition of decaying buildings, and cleared the way for new construction, encouraging commercial investments. With Glasgow’s reputation being established as one of the richest cities in Europe, these architects seized the moment and returned to test their new ideas and inspirations.

Throughout this period, alongside its grand public museums, galleries and libraries, the city witnessed the rapid construction of chambers (large office blocks associated with trading), and commercial buildings in the expanding city centre grid. New methods and materials, such as reinforced concrete and steel-framed construction, enabled architects to make a departure from the familiar load-bearing sandstone architecture.

This exhibition offers insights into these unique buildings that anticipated the twentieth century designs, and manifest technological innovations, contributing to Glasgow’s global architectural significance.

Content & research by Anna Wojtun and Rosie O’Grady, both GCHT interns in 2013.