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Glasgow, United Kingdom, 2009-Apr 9, 2014

PROGRAM: art, design, and architecture school, including studios, project spaces, lecture theater, seminar rooms, cafe, exhibition, and academic administrative spaces
CLIENT: The Glasgow School of Art
SIZE: 11250 sm
STATUS: completed

The Reid Building is in complementary contrast to Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 1909 Glasgow School of Art - forging a symbiotic relation in which each structure heightens the integral qualities of the other. A thin translucent materiality in considered contrast to the masonry of the Mackintosh building - volumes of light which express the school's activity in the urban fabric embodying a forward-looking life for the arts.

Working simultaneously from the inside out - engaging the functional needs and psychological desires of the program - and the outside in - making connections to the city campus and relating to the Mackintosh building opposite - the design embodies the school's aspirations in the city's fabric.

Mackintosh's amazing manipulation of the building section for light in inventive ways has inspired our approach towards a plan of volumes in different light. The studio/workshop is the basic building block of the building. Spaces have been located not only to reflect their interdependent relationships but also their varying needs for natural light. Studios are positioned on the north façade with large inclined north facing glazing to maximize access to the desirable high quality diffuse north light. Spaces that do not have a requirement for the same quality of natural light, such as the refectory and offices, are located on the South façade where access to sunlight can be balanced with the occupants needs and the thermal performance of the space through application of shading.

"Driven voids of light" allow for the integration of structure, spatial modulation and light. The "driven void" light shafts deliver natural light through the depth of the building providing direct connectivity with the outside world through the changing intensity and color of the sky. In addition, they provide vertical circulation through the building, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

Along the South elevation, at the same height as the Mackintosh main studios, a landscape loggia in the form of a Machair gives the school an exterior social core open to the city. The natural vegetation with some stone work routes the water into a small recycling water pond which will reflect dappled sunlight onto the ceiling inside.

A "Circuit of Connection" throughout the new Reid Building encourages the "creative abrasion" across and between departments that is central to the workings of the school. The open circuit of stepped raps links all major spaces - lobby, exhibition space, project spaces, lecture theater, seminar rooms, studios, workshops and green terraces for informal gatherings and exhibitions.

The Reid Building, which is named after former GSA Director, Dame Seona Reid, has been funded by a grant from the Scottish Funding Council.
"Although the Seona Reid Building stands out against the traditional low-rise architecture of its surroundings, the dialogue between new and old is respectful and operates profitably, as it grants the new extension a sense of place and cultural relevancy. ... The Driven Voids are breached to bathe the space with a slice of warm southern light. It is a dynamic interplay -- which the architects refer to as 'a new language of light' -- that communicates spatially across varying scales, striking a balance between intensity and intimacy."
-Francois-Luc Giraldeau, Mark
"The design concept of the "driven voids of light" is wholly successful. [] The voids spill out into surrounding spaces via openings at various levels. One has a circle of seating at its base, making is feel like a Turrell "skyspace." The voids act as markers, helping you orient yourself within the building as the circulation route of ramps and stairs loop to and fro. [] Gently glowing at night, Holl's hilltop lantern could become something of a cultural beacon too."
-Hugh Pearman, Architectural Record
"Steven Holl's Reid Building emerges as an open armature for creative encounter at the Glasgow School of Art. [] What Holl has created from a simple-seeming plan is a complex 'bunch of places' that combine flowing openness with manifold opportunities for discovery and interchange."
-Richard Weston, The Architectural Review
"By the genius solution of light wells, or as he calls them "driven voids" of light, Steven Holl has brought some much-needed light into the depths of a new seven-storey building located on one of Glasgow's drumlins overlooking the city. [] You really get the impression that this is a building which will be in its element as a functioning art school, buzzing with activity. The exposed concrete is sturdy and acts as a monochromatic canvas, designed to take a beating from the experimentations of young art students, while the horizontal views into the studios provide inspiration for the next generations of creatives."
-Cate St Hill, Blueprint
"Outstripping the sculpture-in-the-courtyard model of so many banal art-architecture partnerships, Holl's and Boyce's overlapping spatial and material strategies give rise to an intensely symbiotic connection -- one befitting its storied multidisciplinary context."
-Julian Rose, Artforum


– The Glasgow School of Art
David Miller, Eleanor McAllister
Douglas Anderson, Heather Gemmell (project managers)
Megan Green (project administrator)
Ian Jones (decant project manager)
Stuart Miller (assistant project manager)
Mike Sharp (academic coordinator)

– Steven Holl Architects
Steven Holl, Chris McVoy (design architects)
Chris McVoy, Noah Yaffe (partners in charge)
Dominik Sigg (project architect)
Dimitra Tsachrelia (assistant project architect)
Rychiee Espinosa, Scott Fredricks, JongSeo Lee, Jackie Luk, Fiorenza Matteoni, Ebbie Wisecarver (project team)
Dominik Sigg, Peter Adams, Rychiee Espinosa (competition team)

associate architects
– JM Architects
Henry McKeown (design director)
Craig Tait (project architect)
Paul Twynam, Vicky Batters (architect)
Ian Alexander (design director, competition stages)

project manager
– Turner & Townsend

general contractor
– Sir Robert McAlpine

– Ove Arup & Partners

quantity surveyor
– Turner & Townsend

CDM Coordinator
– Cyril Sweett

landscape architect
– Michael Van Valkenburgh and Associates

– Turley Associates