Civic values shape the second phase of the City of Glasgow College, by Reiach & Hall and Michael Laird Architects


Keith Hunter

Designed by Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects, City Campus is the second phase in the realisation of a ‘super-college’, a project that has brought staff and students of the City of Glasgow College from 11 separate buildings onto two new campuses – the other being ‘Riverside’.


“City Campus is a significant piece of the city imbued with all its energy and complexity”, says Reiach & Hall. It contains aspects of the College’s six major faculties: Building, Engineering and Energy; Business & Enterprise; Creative Industries; Leisure & Lifestyle; andLibrary & Learning Technologies.


The 60,000-square-metre building includes around 300 high‐tech classrooms as well as a multi‐purpose lecture theatre and specialist facilities including cross-discipline project bases that encourage blended learning. There is a multi-discipline construction hall, industry-standard hair and beauty salons, computer suites and a ‘Faculty of Creative Industries’ with panoramic views of the city. There is also a fully equipped Food & Hospitality Faculty, clustered around a courtyard, a business school, and Sports Scotland-standard sports facilities. A full aircraft cabin facilitates cabin crew training. A suite of media facilities includes Scotland’s second-largest TV broadcasting studio and industry-standard radio production facilities.

“The overarching architectural intention of the project was to create a building or complex of buildings that in themselves constitute a city community, a place where the students and staff are energised and engaged, where they can through the acquisition of technical and professional skills realise their ambitions”, says Reiach & Hall. “The building is therefore conceived as a place of exchange where the whole city and its citizens are invited in, and from the outset, the design aimed to alert the city to this critical institution through its elevated location, its scale and its presence”.

“Rather than deny the topography, the section negotiates the gradient through two ‘scala principale’ – one external and one internal”. These stairs act as the main routes into the building and form meeting places. The building is organised round two ‘civic’ spaces: an enclosed courtyard and a seven-storey atrium.

“Architecturally we were deliberately restrained”, notes the Reiach & Hall. “Where the campus directly addresses the city, the facades are layered: a detached gridding of precast concrete mediates between inside and outside, giving a civic grain and depth to the facades, while the inner facade acts as the weathering envelope”.


The form of the building also picks up a dynamic intersection of the diagonal geometry of Cathedral Street overlying the grid of the mercantile city. This facade is inflected in response to a residential tower to the north-west, “a modernist campanile to the cathedral mass of the main college”, suggests Reiach & Hall.


Passive environmental technologies including exposed thermal mass and night cooling helped to achieve a BREEAM ‘Excellent’ rating. A socio-economic evaluation was also undertaken, which showed that – among other positive impacts – the building generated £1.42 for the local comminty for every £1 spent, and created 148 employment opportunities, and that eight per cent of the subcontract spend went into Scotland’s supply chain – much of it to small and medium-sized companies.

Additional Images


Reiach & Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects
Structural engineer
M&E engineers
Hulley & Kirkwood, FES
Interior design
Graven Images
Landscape architect
Rankin Fraser
Contractor client
Sir Robert McAlpine