Villages of Glasgow

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Tulip and Lattice Pink Panel

The Municipal Buildings,
page 5 of 8

that each of the fronts has an individuality and special treatment of its own, while at the same time unity has been given to the whole design by repetition and balance in the outline of the composition. The general height of the walls is 75 feet above the street level, the corners being carried up one storey higher than the rest of the building, and crowned with octagonal cupolas, about 125 feet high at the apex. The ground and first floors, which are devoted to the various municipal offices or departments of the public service, are treated throughout as a grand rusticated basement for the building — a treatment frequently adopted in many of the best examples of civic architecture in Venice and other parts of Italy. The most has been made of the style in which it is built, but, in our opinion, what is suited for Italy with its heat and piercing light is out of place in the darker climate of Scotland. The deep, dark windows have more shade than is desirable. Indeed, many of the windows have been altered and enlarged for the sake of light. The perpendicular Gothic, like the Houses of Parliament, would have been better.

The finest feature in the external architecture of the building is undoubtedly its elevation facing George Square. This elevation has its centre adorned by three orders, crowned by a pediment and flanked by cupolas. Along the pediment is a group of finely carved sculpture, representing Glasgow, with the Clyde at her feet, sending her manufactures and arts all over the world. The ground and first floor storeys of the central portion form the principal entrance to the building and quadrangle, and are treated in three arched bays, divided by coupled Ionic columns, knit well together by a band of sculpture running across the arches and under the entablature. The windows of the second and principal floor of this front are of Venetian character, and are placed between coupled Corinthian columns with the minor order Ionic. The main wall is set behind the columns. A band of sculptured subjects running along the line of the window beads gives richness to this front, while the projecting columns give a fine effect of light and shade.

So far as the official apartments are concerned, the Council Chamber and the Banqueting Hall are specially worthy of notice. The former is a noble apartment, comprising 9,300 superficial feet of floor space. It is 25 feet high at the lowest part, and 40 feet high in the centre, which is finely carried up in the form of a dome, the very worst contrivance for good acoustics. Indeed, wherever a hall is greater in height than in breadth it is difficult to hear in it — e.g., that abortion, Hutcheson’s Hall. A suite of well-proportioned salons connect this chamber with the Banqueting Hall. This hall is 110 feet long by 50 feet wide and 5o feet high, and has a gallery at one end and a raised dais at the other.

Possibly one of the most artistic and imposing sections of this magnificent building is its main entrance from George Square. This consists of a well-proportioned and artistically-treated loggia, having three arched bays, extending from George Square to the quadrangle, and intersected by a cross-arch running parallel to the front of the building. Domes are formed at the intersection of the arches, and the cross bay is terminated in the form of an alcove, with columns and pilasters supporting an entablature. The columns forming the bays and pilasters are of granite, the capitals of marble, and the arched ceilings and domes are of exquisitely-designed subjects in Venetian mosaic. On each side of the loggia are staircases of easy ascent, one leading to the apartments of the officials of the Town Council, and the other to the Grand Hall and


:: Previous Page :: Next Page ::

Books & articles appearing here are modified adaptations
from a private collection of vintage books & magazines.
Reproduction of these pages is prohibited without written permission. © Laurel O'Donnell, 1996-2006.