Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site


Status: Designated


There are no additional online documents for this record.


Group Category Details
100000019 - See Notes
Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 56614 66700
256614, 666700


T Harold Hughes with D S R Waugh, 1936-9; completed 1950-54, Alexander Waugh & Kay (the latter designed additional timber upper storey, 1963 and 1966); Reading Room extension, 1982; refurbishment 1986-1993; refurbishment of main lecture theatre and most laboratories, 2004-06. 3-storey Art Deco university teaching and research building. Butterfly-plan with wings radiating from central body linked by curving vertically glazed stair towers. Machine-made narrow 'Roman' yellow brick, with reinforced concrete banding and construction.

2 main entrances to N into boldly glazed carved stairwells, with lettering above doors, flanking physical chemistry block, full-height vertical stairlights; several further entrances with plain doorpieces and die walls. Projecting glazed ground floor with windows set in brick piers in central physical chemistry block. Simple ground level mouldings, ground and 1st floor bands. EARLIER PART TO SE: tripartite window to SE elevation with relief memorial panel to Joseph Priestley (1733-1804). 2nd floor frieze to S wall with incised animal carving. LATER NW BLOCK TO UNIVERSITY PLACE: Joseph Black (1728-1799) memorial tablet on N wall, semi-engaged podium, corniced.

Metal-framed windows, mainly 3-light horizontal with concrete mullions. Flat and shallow-pitched roofs; prominent modern ducting pipes.

INTERIOR: (seen 2010). Original room plan largely extant. Much refurbished and modernized. Curved principal and subsidiary staircases with metal balustrades. Brass Art Deco door handles to corridor firedoors and Main Lecture Theatre doors. Some 1950s timber-panelled corridors and teaching rooms; also some surviving parquet flooring.

GATEWAY AND RAILINGS TO UNIVERSITY PLACE: Metal gates and railings with chevron design.

Statement of Special Interest

The Joseph Black Building forms an A-Group with the Graham Kerr Building (see separate listing). The Joseph Black Building is an outstanding example of a purpose built mid 20th century higher education building. The architectural design of the building is unusual, with an innovative plan form composed of wings linked by large glazed stair blocks. The use of materials is also unusual for its date, with a bold use of exposed brick and concrete. The large sweeping staircases, housed in round towers are characteristic of a design which includes some Art Deco features. The interior also contains some Art Deco details, a number of which are retained in situ, including timber panelling and some doors and door furniture.

Of interest as a rare example of a mid 20th-century higher educational building. Also of interest are the unusual use of brick and concrete and the large sweeping glazed staircases of the linking blocks. Some Art Deco and 1950s and 1960s features remain internally.

The building was designed in 1936-8 as the Institute of Chemistry, but only two of the projected three wings were constructed before the outbreak of the Second World War. The third wing (Inorganic Chemistry, facing University Place) was not completed until 1954, following the death of the original architect, Professor T Harold Hughes of the Glasgow School of Art, in 1949. The discovery of mine workings further delayed completion. At the time of construction it was the largest purpose-built Chemistry facility in the UK. Novel features included special foundations to eliminate vibrations from University Avenue, a large central chemical and equipment store, a 400-seat lecture theatre with projection facilities, and special isolated laboratories for dangerous experiments. The same architects were responsible for the contemporary McMillan Reading Room.

The building was re-named in 1997 after Joseph Black (1728-1799), University Lecturer in Chemistry from 1756 to 1766, who first identified carbon dioxide and carried out pioneering research on latent and specific heat.

Formerly listed as '1f Gilmorehill, University Of Glasgow, Chemistry Building (Including Inorganic, Physical, and Organic Chemistry) Former "Institute Of Chemistry"'.

List description updated as part of review of the University of Glasgow Hillhead Campus, 2011. The building number is derived from the University of Glasgow Main Campus Map (2007), as published on the University's website



Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan: Glasgow, 1949-51; Glasgow University Archives, Drawings Collection Ref. GB 0248 GUA BUL/6/19/1-72; RCAHMS, RIAS Collection, T H Hughes work books; Builder Vol. CLX, (27 June 1941) pp. 609-614 (plan, illustration); RIBA Journal Vol. 57, (December 1949) p. 72 (obituary of Thomas Harold Hughes); Royal Scottish Academy Exhibition 1960, Exhibit No. 320; A M Doak & A McLaren Young (eds), Glasgow at a Glance: An Architectural Handbook, (1977) No.178n; C McKean, The Scottish Thirties, (1987) pp. 125-6; C McKean, D Walker, F Walker, Central Glasgow: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Illustrated Architectural Guide, (1989) p. 185; E Williamson, A Riches, M Higgs, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, (1990) p. 342; A L Brown, M Moss, The University of Glasgow: 1451-1996, (1996) p. 56; Gordon R Urquhart, Along Great Western Road - An Illustrated History of Glasgow's West End, (2000), p. 15; 'University Glasgow Chemistry' search at (accessed 03-03-2010); early photographs and drawings are included in this departmental history, (accessed 03-03-2010).

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the 1997 Act. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


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