Online Talk: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: In Conversation with Ranald MacInnes

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Wednesday 25th August 2021 | 7.30pm BST | via Zoom

As lockdown restrictions in Glasgow start to ease, thoughts are inevitably turning to how the city will continue to chart its path out of the pandemic. With the COP26 climate change conference coming our way in November, how can the city best deal with the challenges ahead? 

Our evening lecture series ‘Transforming Glasgow’  focuses on how Glasgow has changed and reinvented itself in a variety of ways from the latter half of the 20th century onwards to today. How have these changes come about and what has the impact been? What lessons can be learned?

Following the screening of Professor David Walker’s interview in July, on August 25th we will hear from Ranald MacInnes, from Historic Environment Scotland. Having inheritied the situation described in our interview with David, Ranald will talk us through the wider growth of ‘heritage’ in the intervening years and a growing interest in ‘ordinary’ buildings – the ‘background buildings’ that David alluded to in his talk. We will also explore how heritage has shifted and grown towards a new regard for Modernist heritage as some of the replacements for the buildings that David had fought to protect, became suggested for protection themselves.

Ranald will also talk about some of the successes and a few failures of heritage protection, its ‘peak’ in the 1990s, its evolving place within the planning system and more recent creative interventions. The growth of the internet of course has had a huge part to play in empowering people to engage with heritage and opened up a whole new level of interest in Glasgow’s historic buildings and places – it is no longer the preserve of an elite.

Finally, looking to the future, Ranald suggests that we’re now experiencing a huge interest, not just in the architectural merit of Glasgow’s buildings, but in the communities and contexts that gave rise to them. Recent work has tried to move us beyond the limited mainstream narratives and this effort to redress the balance of history, seen in the recent interest in the impact of slavery on Glasgow’s urban development, is surely the most important challenge we now face.

Ranald MacInnes is Head of Place and Publishing at Historic Environment Scotland, and a former Head of Heritage Management with responsibilities which have included advising the Scottish Government on planning and historic environment issues. He began his career with English Heritage in the 1980s. He has a special interest in 20th-century architecture and planning. He is an Honorary Research Fellow of the Institute of Art History, University of Glasgow, Visiting Lecturer in Architectural Design for the Conservation of Built Heritage at the University of Strathclyde and has taught conservation at the Mackintosh School of Architecture. He has published many books, essays, articles and reviews on architectural history and conservation. He has played a leading research-based advisory and regulatory role in many significant conservation and architectural projects.

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