John James Burnet with J Oldrid Scott (consultant), 1901 and 1908; arcaded range to S (fronting Engineering Avenue), John Burnet, Son & Partners, 1920; S range heightened in brick, J Keppie, Henderson & Gleave, 1952. 3-storey and basement university teaching building with Scottish Renaissance and Baronial details. Near rectangular-plan of 2 parallel E-W ranges. Squared and snecked, stugged, blond sandstone; ashlar quoins. Stepped plinth; string courses; parapets; decorative strapwork window pediments; pepperpot angle turrets; crowstepped gables; tall offset chimneys. Decorative vehicular and pedestrian archway linking to Pearce Lodge to N.
W ELEVATION: 5-bay. Main entrance over balustraded bridge at 1st floor, open, broken segmental pedimented doorpiece with arched entry and rusticated piers. N bays regular windows, strapwork pediments at 2nd floor. S bays narrow, corniced windows, corbelled turret to S, crowstepped gables. N ELEVATION: plain, with window details repeated, sculpted parapet detail NE corner. Angle buttressed corbelled out at 3rd floor corner turret. S ELEVATION: keyblocked, arched basement windows central semi-extruded tower rising full-height, polygonal roof; pilastered niche with supporting scrolls and sculpture; irregular fenestration repeating window detailing; SE corner turret. ARCHWAY: vehicular and pedestrian arches linking to Pearce Lodge; banded blocks, semi-circular pediment. S extension of 6 keyblocked, arched buttressed section with parapet.
2-, 3- and 4-light stone mullioned sash and case windows with strapwork pediments. Pitched slate roofs.
INTERIOR: (public spaces seen 2010). Room plan largely as original. Timber panelling and parquet flooring to entrance lobby; decorative wrought-iron balustrade and carved fish-head terminal to handrail of main stair. Numerous 20th-century alterations to finishes elsewhere.
Statement of Special Interest
James Watt Building is part of an A-Group with McMillan Reading Room, Gatepiers, Railings, Quincentenary Gates, Hunter Memorial, John McIntyre Building, Pearce Lodge, Thomson Building, Lord Kelvin's Sundial and Gilbert Scott Buildings.
The James Watt North Building was designed by the notable architect, John James Burnet. John Oldrid Scott (second son and successor to the architect of the Main Building, George Gilbert Scott) acted as consultant. The detailing takes its cue not from the Gilbert Scott Building, but from Pearce Lodge, which incorporates a number of elements from the demolished 17th-century university buildings in the High Street. The contemporary Bower and Thomson Buildings were designed in similar style. In preparation for his work at the University and Western Infirmary, Burnet undertook a tour of the USA in 1896 in order to study American laboratory designs.
John James Burnet was one of Scotland's leading architects in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Son of another architect, John Burnet Senior, he trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Burnet was a pioneer of the stylistic move from historicist styles to a tradition-based, but free-style architecture. He developed enormously successful and influential practices in Glasgow and London, designing a number of eminent buildings including the Fine Art Institute, Athenaeum Theatre, Charing Cross Mansions, Atlantic Chambers and Clyde Navigation Trust Offices in Glasgow and the Kodak Building, the second and third phases of Selfridges, Adelaide House, and the King Edward VII Wing at the British Museum in London. Burnet was knighted for the latter project in 1914. Commissions for the University of Glasgow included: the Bower Building (1900), Anatomical Building (1900-1), John McIntyre Building (1908), University Chapel (1923-29), Zoology Building (1923), and Hunter Memorial (1925). The neighbouring Glasgow Western Infirmary also employed Burnet Sr and John James Burnet for a number of projects.
The original range of the James Watt Building was extended southwards in 1908 to a plan previously approved by Burnet to form a double pile. In 1920, John Burnet, Son & Partners returned to add the arcaded extension fronting Engineering Avenue. This extension was heightened by two brick storeys in 1952 by J Keppie, Henderson & Gleave. The James Watt South Building was attached in 1957-58 by Keppie Henderson & Partners on the site of the old 'Abbot's Kitchen' - the polygonal chemistry department designed as part of the Main Building by George Gilbert Scott.
The building is named after James Watt, the famous engineer and inventor, who worked as a mathematical instrument maker to the University between 1756 and 1764. The James Watt North Building is currently (2010) in use by Computing Services; the S extension is occupied by the James Watt Nanofabrication Centre.
Formerly listed as '1g Gilmorehill, University Of Glasgow, Engineering Building'. See separate listing for Pearce Lodge.
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 www.gla.ac.uk.
Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan: Glasgow, 1909-10; Glasgow University Archives, Drawings Collection Ref. GB 0248 GUA BUL/6/6/1-130; Mitchell Library, Dean of Guild Collection, drawings registered 28/09/1899, ref. 1/7416; Builder (29/06/1901), p640; Architects Journal (27/06/1923); Builder (22/07/1949), p123; Builder (21/07/1950), p109; D Walker 'Scotland at the Turn of the Century' in Edwardian Architecture & its Origins (A Service, ed.), (1975) p. 201 and p. 214, n39; 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. 337; M Hansell, H Harris, M Reilly & G D Ruxton, Architectural Treasures of the University of Glasgow, (2009), p13; 'University Glasgow Engineering' search at www.scottisharchitects.org.uk (accessed 03-03-2010).
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Printed: 26/05/2022 03:48