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Thursday24 July 2014

McAslan battles on for George Square

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Scheme was axed following competition win

John McAslan has demanded a meeting with the leader of Glasgow City Council after he canned the George Square competition.

McAslan, whose practice was declared the winner of the £15 million contest to revamp the square, accused Gordon Matheson of playing political games.

He told BD he is determined to salvage the project and will hold a public meeting to persuade Glaswegians of his scheme’s merits.

The competition was ostensibly scrapped because the public objected to major changes to the square which contains the cenotaph and statues of some of Scotland’s most famous figures.

Instead it will now get a “facelift” in time for the Commonwealth Games next year.

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… I am proud to say that I am listening to them.”

He was on the jury for the contest but is understood have been unhappy with the decision by the other four members, who included David Mackay of MBM Architects in Barcelona, and Andy McMillan, former head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture.

The other finalists were Gustafson Porter, James Corner Field Operations, JM Architects Agence Ter, and Burns & Nice.

“We got an email at 3.02pm on Monday to say we were selected and wild celebrations ensued,” said McAslan.

“To hear one minute later that Matheson had abandoned the process was disheartening but we will continue to pursue this. This is the beginning of something not the end.

“Lots of good people have given lots of time to the competition only for it to be abandoned on a whim. It’s poor communication, poor governance and political play by the leader of the council.”

Christopher Platt, head of the Mac, described it as a “catastrophic loss of nerve and a failure in civic leadership which is being spun by [Matheson] to emphasise that his is a listening council.”

But he was optimistic that McAslan might salvage the scheme – especially after watching his performance on Newsnight Scotland on Tuesday.

“I could imagine if John gets in front of the public, then he may well turn it around,” he said.

“He is a skilful tactician and diplomat when it comes to rescuing a project. I think everything changes when a public group come face to face with a person who is an architect, rather than drawings and models.”

 

The bill

The abandoned competition has cost Glasgow taxpayers £89,287 so far, excluding officers’ time.

RIAS fee:  £19,500

Honoraria for runners-up (5x £5,000):  £25,000

Winner (honorarium) (1x10,000):  £10,000

Chair of judges (David Mackay): £5,000

3x judges @ £2,000:  £6,000

Expenses (est.): £4,000

£4,287 site investigation

£1,500 Lighthouse hire for display of images and room hire

£14,000 Mori consultation

 

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Readers' comments (4)

  • Trying to argue with the leader of Glasgow City Council might prove to be rather like trying to nail jelly to the wall - and if this jelly bursts it could result in a worse stink than that of the cloud from the factory in Rouen yesterday.

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  • The design seems unexceptional and rather windswept. It looks much too formal and forbidding and there is a distinct lack of places to sit and chat. The trees look lost and the landscaping at one end rather feeble.

    So what's to fight for?

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  • In times like these it's insane to think about spending public money on stuff like this.

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  • I dont see where the benefits are with this design. why bother

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