Campus redevelopment update

Published: 27 October 2015

An update from Ann Allen, the University's Director of Estates and Buildings, aimed at briefing you on the progress being made towards creating a World Changing Campus.

This is the fourth in a series of updates from Ann Allen, the University's Director of Estates and Buildings, aimed at briefing you on the progress being made towards creating a World Changing Campus.


The University is in the midst of an incredibly large project to transform the campus as part of a £775M development plan.

Work is progressing well on all the projects that make up the campus development plan and it is important to remind ourselves why we are undertaking such a large scale project; our overarching purpose is to create a world changing campus for all our inspirational people.

Creating a world changing campus is more than just a tagline. The research, teaching and students that come from the University have played a hugely important role in the city of Glasgow and the wider world for more than 500 years. We are building a campus that will support the fantastic work here for years to come.

There are many aspects we are considering to ensure that the campus fulfils the needs of everyone today and in the future. The Estates and Buildings team are considering the best ways to make the new buildings both effective and efficient.

We are focused on building accommodation that enhances the student experience.

Image of the completed GUU Stevenson building September 2015To name just a few of our projects aimed at creating an unrivalled student experience at the University of Glasgow:  The Hive which opened last weekend, the Stevenson extension which will open in the next few days; the library is undergoing extensive refurbishment; the GLass building at Garscube which will open next term and of course the new teaching facility at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

In the last three years the University has spent over £42.2 million on improving student facilities.

We are not only interested in the buildings but also the landscape and environment of the campus. Our team of groundskeepers ensure the outdoor areas are immaculate even with construction work taking place. When planning new buildings we always consider the space around them as well as the interior.

Saving the Tower

Tower with scaffoldingAnyone who has been on campus in the past few months will have noticed the scaffolding covering the University tower.

Due to the Scottish climate the stone on the tower deteriorated and essential repairs were needed.

The University Tower is an iconic landmark in Glasgow and our new blue tower will be a landmark until Spring next year.

We are spending time and energy to make sure both the tower and bell are restored to ensure it remains a landmark in the future. It is our duty as guardians of this vast estate to continue to maintain and repair our buildings. Built into the capital plan there is a commitment of funding to continue to maintain our buildings – old and new.

Learning from the past, looking to the future

After the University moved from its original site on Glasgow’s high street in 1870 a newly built campus was designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and the largest of these new buildings was the bell tower.

The tower’s signature spire was designed by Sir George's son, John Oldrid Scott, and was added to the building in 1887. This design by John Oldrid was slightly different to the original plans. This design allows wind to pass through the tower to minimise the damage caused by the weather.

Had the original, more solid design, been used the tower would have been damaged by weather to a much greater extent that it has.

We continue to use this forward thinking to ‘future proof’ our new buildings. Our estate will be iconic but will also reflect the climate and be fit for purpose.

Quick facts about the tower repairs

  • The scaffold at the University tower is 83m (272 feet) high.  It is almost the highest point in the city, just a little short of the mast on top of the Glasgow Tower.
  • The total estimated weight of the scaffold is 225 tonnes which is nearly equivalent to the weight of the Statue of Liberty! 
  • The iron spiral stair inside the spire has 86 steps in total.  The scaffold has 415 steps in total making it a hefty climb of 501 steps to the top burning around 50 calories.
  • The scaffold took 17 weeks to erect it is estimated that it took a total of 10,500 person hours to build.
  • The last time the tower was scaffolded was in 1990. 
  • There are three main bells, all originally cast in 1888 by John Taylor & Co. from Loughborough. Two are tuned to B and one to F#.

Testing for the future

The new projects will not only provide new buildings but will also allow the University to introduce new ways of working both in terms of pedagoy and how we provide service for students.

We are using the current investment projects to test new ways of working. The most recent lecture theatre refurbishments have been designed to encourage group working even in the lecture theatre environment. The refurbishment of the library will allow us to trial different ways of providing services to users.

The move to Tay House for some services staff is allowing us to test multiple designs for office layouts and ways of works.

We will continue to test ‘future proof ideas to understand the best way of creating a campus that is efficient as well as effective and fit for all our inspiring people for generations. 

First published: 27 October 2015

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