Glasgow Tower was built in wrong place say experts

The Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Tower Picture: Allan Milligan
The Glasgow Science Centre and the Glasgow Tower Picture: Allan Milligan
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ARCHITECTS are claiming that Glasgow Tower has been plagued with problems because it was build in the wrong place.

The original plans for the tower were to have it built in St Enoch Square, but amid financial problems, the location was moved to the River Clyde.

View from the top of the Glasgow Tower in 2001 as it was under construction 'Picture: Allan Milligan

View from the top of the Glasgow Tower in 2001 as it was under construction 'Picture: Allan Milligan

At 417ft high, Glasgow Tower is a predominant marker in the Glasgow skyline. But the tower has had its fair share of problems over the years.

Opened 15-years-ago for a price tag of £10 million, the tower has spent much of its time closed to the public. Visitors are currently only allowed to ascend the tower if winds don’t reach above 22mph, and it is closed from October to March every year.

In July 2001, twenty people got to the top of the tower before the lift doors failed, due to the system overheating. In February 2002 it was discovered that the bearings in the rotating base were sunk by almost an inch, causing the tower to be shut for almost a year and a half.

In January 2005 ten people were trapped for five hours after a cable in the lift snapped, causing the emergency breaks to be triggered. In July 2014, after a four year closure, the tower reopened just to shut three days later after catching fire.

The tower was a high-risk project and an architectural accident waiting to happen.

Peter Wilson

Bosses have claimed that most problems in the tower have now been solved, even though it can no longer rotate while visitors are inside.

The structure was built to rotate 360 degrees, across the whole tower, as part of an architecture competition in 1992. Originally set for St Ennoch Square, the tower was moved to the old Prince’s Dock near Govan.

Neil Baxter, secretary of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, believes that’s where the original problems began.

“The tower is one of those magnificent, innovative ideas that ultimately hasn’t really worked.

The tower reopened in 2014 just to shut three days later when a fire broke out Picture: John Devlin

The tower reopened in 2014 just to shut three days later when a fire broke out Picture: John Devlin

“Who’d have thought of putting a 400ft-high tower on a turntable? No one, is the answer – that perhaps tells you something.

“Problems arose from the outset and then persisted. The site is very exposed.

“The original planned location, at St Enoch Square, is enclosed. You’re always going to be more exposed to wind and the elements at a riverside site.

“I think moving the tower from St Enoch Square might be the root of the problem. It’s probably colder which could cause temperature-related problems.

“But it was an extraordinarily innovative idea. It was, and is, a world first.”

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Peter Wilson, a leading Scots architect formerly of Napier University, said: “There wasn’t really any intention to build the tower. The project was resurrected as part of Glasgow’s bid to be City of Architecture in 1999.

“The decision to shift it from the St Enoch Centre was the problem – moving it to the reclaimed ground of a filled-in dock which is open to the elements.

“I think everything that’s happened stems from this decision.

“It sat on a giant ball-bearing on rings which never quite fitted. There were questions about the structural stability.

“The tower was a high-risk project and an architectural accident waiting to happen. It was a case of designing something which was purely an idea from a concept which had never been tested and expecting it to work first time.”

But Science Centre chief executive Dr Stephen Breslin said: “All the outstanding problems were fixed two summers ago.

“There’s no denying its chequered history but we’re back to a seven-day operation on March 23. The tower was enjoyed by more than 12,000 visitors last year.”

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