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 57034 66604
257034, 666604


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



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 (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.

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Printed: 02/10/2022 08:25