McAslan battles on for George Square
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 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