Architect John McAslan has hit out at Glasgow City Council’s abandonment of the George Square competition, as it announced the winner.

McAslan's winning scheme will not be built Ⓒ Glasgow City Council
McAslan's winning scheme will not be built Ⓒ Glasgow City Council

McAslan said, ‘We heard one moment that we had won, and the next that it had been abandoned.’ On Monday (21 January) Councillor Gordon Matheson, leader of Glasgow City Council, both announced the winner of the competition and said that the council would go ahead with a facelift instead.

As far as McAslan is concerned, this is not the end. ‘I am going to try to keep the process moving,’ he said. ‘We don’t go away. There is no reason to stop the process. There is an absolute reason to listen to what the people of Glasgow want, but there is no need to abandon the competition.’

Up till now, he said, the competition had been run in an exemplary manner, with proper procedures and a highly skilled jury – of which Matheson was a member. ‘This is a matter of poor governance and poor leadership,’ McAslan said. ‘It is an insult to the credentials of the jury. It is negligent.’

McAslan’s scheme was selected from a shortlist of six, with the other proposals by Agence Ter (France); Burns + Nice (UK); Gustafson Porter (UK); James Corner Field Operations (US);and, jmarchitects (UK). The six designs were made publicly available, but the attributio of the designs remained anonymous.

The winner was due to be announced last Friday (18 February) but the jury was unable to reach a decision by the original deadline. When the announcement was made, it was accompanied by the decision not to build the winning project.

Matheson said, The people of Glasgow have made it clear in no uncertain terms that they do not want a radical redesign of the square. They want the square to look better and be a place of which they can be proud – a place they can while away a sunny afternoon or get together and celebrate the big occasions in the life of the city.

‘They also want us to keep the statues where they are, and they like the grass. However, they clearly want rid of the red tarmac.

‘I am proud to say that I am listening to them.

‘We will carry out this refurbishment work in time for the Commonwealth Games and only if there is public demand thereafter, will we consider a radical change.’

The project, which was to have cost £15 million, had attracted 35 submissions  from as far afield as Australia, the US and Sweden.


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