City of Glasgow College City Campus

Reiach and Hall Architects and Michael Laird Architects, Glasgow, 2016


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

Steps to the entrance 

Reiach and Hall Architects     Download Original

  • Steps to the entrance    
  • View from Montrose Street    
  • It is a building designed to function on an urban scale in its social and educational purpose    
  • The college courtyard    
  • Inside the art and design department    
  • The atrium    
  • Stairs in the atrium    
  • The catering department    
  • The construction department    
  • The college    
  • Levels 2 and 4    
  • Department organisations diagram    
  • Section AA    
  • Bay study north    
  • Bay study east, south & west    
  • Detail profiles    
  • Detail section    

This huge building accommodates 40,000 students across six major faculties, with more than 800 distinct learning spaces.

The site occupies a significant high point on Cathedral Street where Glasgow’s mercantile grid meets the diagonal route from the medieval old town.

The building’s main block creates an animated street frontage to Cathedral Street on its southern edge with one main entrance and lobby facing Montrose Street, dropping downhill towards the river. To the west, the block’s flank picks up the angle of the Merchant City’s grid, while negotiating the 10m change in site level, with an upper entrance marking the crank in the façade where the north-western wing of building joins the main block. Together, these create the eastern edge to a new public space.

In the exterior detailing, the detached grid of double-height and fluted precast concrete columns creates an appropriately grand civic frontage.

The vertical gridding of this screen also mediates and gives depth and textural edge to the building’s form, breaking it down and allowing for ripples and shifts in rhythm and perception as one approaches or passes by. 

Internally, a seven-storey atrium connects the upper and lower entrance lobbies. Its dynamic diagonal shape is generated by shifts in the city grid and street pattern, while a bank of stairs negotiates the same 10m change in site level as those outside. It brings a sense of the exterior landscape into the building while doubling as an auditorium.

In addition to the top-lit atrium, a large planted courtyard and, higher up, a series of generous terraced courtyards and spaces, around which the faculties are organised, bring light deep into the learning spaces and provide break-out areas. It is a complex hierarchy of spaces, which means the building itself reads as a city within a city.

This urban sense is further underlined by the myriad flexible, multi-programmable learning spaces being joined by industry-standard and career-specific facilities. 

The construction timescales demanded a rapid build structure to suit the contractor’s programme and cost requirements. The solution to address these challenges comprised embedded asymmetric steel beams supporting Hollowcore precast planks and a structural topping. Primarily, this provided the client a structure with a flat soffit and therefore flexible spaces in the future by segregating the structural/services interfaces to minimise requirements in building adaptions. The prefabricated nature of the structure also maximised offsite manufacture to speed up the construction process on site.


  • Begun: Jun 2013
  • Completed: Aug 2016
  • Floor area: 60,000m2
  • Sector: Education
  • Total cost: £162M
  • Procurement: Bespoke Non-Profit Distributing (NPD)
  • CO2 Emissions: 28.31kg/m2/year
  • Address: 190 Cathedral Street, Glasgow, G4 0RF, United Kingdom

Professional Team

AJBL Sponsor

Armstrong World Industries

A global leader in providing customised, multi material ceiling and wall solutions

Find out more