City of Glasgow College shortlisted for architectural prize

An award-winning college building on the River Clyde is in the running for the most prestigious architectural award in Britain.

City of Glasgow College. Picture: Edmund Sumner
City of Glasgow College. Picture: Edmund Sumner

The City of Glasgow College’s Riverside campus has been shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize, awarded annually to the best new building in the UK.

The facility, located on the southern bank of the river in the city centre, has garnered a clutch of awards since it opened its doors last August.

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The building, part of a new £228 million twin-site campus, has been widely praised for the way it connects with the city’s waterway and is already regarded as a landmark.

Its place on the RIBA shortlist represents its most high-profile commendation to date. The coveted award has only ever been won by one building in Scotland – the Scottish Parliament.

However, the college faces stiff competition for the accolade. Other nominees include Newport Street Gallery, an entire street of listed industrial buildings which was converted into a free public gallery for the artist Damien Hirst, and the Blavatnik School of Government, a radical new university building in Oxford.

The college’s campus was designed in a joint venture between the Michael Laird Architects and Reiach and Hall Architects, both of which are based in Edinburgh.

It is home to around 2,000 marine and engineering students and features a 198-bedroom hall of residence, separated from the main college building by a continental-style colonnade and garden area.

RIBA said the creation of the campus has allowed Glasgow to benefit from a “bold statement about the importance of civic education”. They describe the building as a “new icon on the Glasgow skyline,” reserving praise for its civic spaces, such as a grand hall and cloistered garden.

Already, it has won the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland award and the RIBA award for Scotland.

In a joint statement, Lyle Chrystie from Reiach and Hall and Brendan Diamond from Michael Laird Architects said they were “delighted” at being shortlisted.

“For us, good buildings are only possible with good clients. We were extremely lucky on this project to have a highly engaged and collaborative ­client group whose energy and commitment to the project went substantially beyond professional obligations,” they said.

“In the 21 years the award has been running, only seven projects in Scotland have been selected for this shortlist. We are humbled that the Riverside Campus is the eighth.”

Paul Little, principal and chief executive of the college, said: “We have always said that our campus buildings are more than just that. Their beautiful perceptive designs, deliberately open and connected, inspire collaboration, exploit synergies and foster partnerships.”

Half of the shortlisted entries are buildings designed specifically for education, a trend RIBA said helped to highlight the importance of outstanding architecture in a learning environment.

Jane Duncan, the institute’s president, said: “Every one of the six buildings shortlisted illustrates the huge benefit that well-designed buildings can bring to people’s lives. As with Blavatnik School of Government, Weston Library and City of Glasgow College, they can give cities and institutions a new landmark to delight and draw in visitors, improve education potential, and increase civic pride.”

The winner of the prize, now in its 21st year, will be announced on 6 October.