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.


Date Added
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NS 56710 66650
256710, 666650


James Miller, 1903-06; extended Basil Spence & Partners (architects) with Crouch & Hogg (engineers), T-plan ranges to N in 1947-52 and rectangular-plan range to W in 1959; rooftop extension to W range, Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson, 1966-68; rooftop extension to N range, later 20th century. Scots Renaissance style university research and teaching building with classic Modernist style extensions. 1906 building: quadrangular-plan (infilled) with lecture theatre block extending from NE angle. Snecked rubble with ashlar dressings. Extensions: Z-plan arrangement forming a further quadrangle with the 1903-06 building; steel frame structures with cavity brick walls and external leaf of smooth Portland stone (upper storeys) and rock-faced Blaxter stone (lower zone); timber clad penthouse on W range; concrete frame cantilevered lecture theatre, with timber cladding, to courtyard.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION OF 1903-06 BUILDING: MAIN S ELEVATION: 4-1-4 bays, outer bays breaking forward, with 3-bay returns; elliptically-headed basement windows; central entrance head of steps with swept parapets; columned doorpiece with strapwork pediment; tripartite window with outer pilasters, corbelled cill, sculpted pediment above, central coped gable. Outer bays fluted Ionic pilasters on raked cill band rising from ground to 1st floor; coped pediments to E and W returns, balustraded die parapet. Cupola over centre with segmental headed niches. E AND W ELEVATIONS continue detailing in simplified form with canted bay window in N bay of E return corniced axial stacks.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION OF SPENCE EXTENSIONS: steps to Portico in antis on single column at NW corner; concrete balcony and metal railings to entrance hall windows; strip windows to W range; regular arrangement of windows in bays to N range. Lecture Hall at NE angle with external concrete staircase and balcony. Splayed and cantilevered Lecture Theatre to internal courtyard.

Sash and case windows, mainly 4-light with stone mullions and transoms. Slate roof. Spence extensions: metal-framed casement windows. Full-height windows, with timber mullions, to foyer.

INTERIOR: (seen 2010). Panelled entrance hall and staircase; granolithic floors; tiled dados to corridors; exposed steel girder barrel roof to former main lecture theatre (subdivided, 1991). Spence extensions: concrete spiral stair with terrazzo treads and steel and timber balustrades; terrazzo flooring; steel cage lift; plywood ceiling panels. Main lecture theatre (Room 222) with timber and steel desks and plywood wall panels; timber doors with glazed panels and stylised handles.

Statement of Special Interest

The Kelvin Building was designed by the notable architect James Miller, with extensions by the internationally renowned Basil Spence & Partners. The building also has historical significance as the former home of the 'synchrotron', an early particle accelerator, commissioned in 1954.

James Miller won a number of important competitions, including those for the Glasgow International Exhibition and Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1901, the Materia Medica & Physiology Building for the University of Glasgow in 1903, the Bombay Museum (unbuilt) in 1908 and the Gleneagles Hotel in 1913. As a result of these and other successful commissions, Miller built up a large architectural practice with offices in Glasgow and London specialising in railway, medical and bank buildings. Basil Spence was responsible for a number of high-profile buildings including the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral (1951-62), University of Sussex (1959-75), Household Cavalry Barracks London (1970), Chancery of the British Embassy in Rome (1964-71) and the New Zealand Parliament extension in Wellington (1964-1977).

Miller's building of 1903-06 drew on the form and orientation of the adjacent Gilbert Scott Building, although on a much reduced scale, with 17th century detailing in the style of the University's previous High Street buildings. The University Court preferred the design for its 'simplicity and suitability beside the existing buildings'. Initially the complex contained 3 quadrangles: 2 small quads behind the S range and a larger quad to the W of the surviving lecture theatre wing. The NW corner of this quadrangle was demolished for the Spence link/extension of 1959.

Spence's Natural Philosophy building extension was a landmark in Scottish architecture, heralding the period of reconstruction and university expansion. It provides the link between the pre-war and post-war approaches to Modernism by demonstrating the connection between the Classical and the geometric Purism of Le Corbusier. Tradition is acknowledged in the rusticated lower and opaque upper zones, while the whiteness of Modernism is emphasised with Portland stone. The sculpted column at the portico is a direct reference to Corbusier, which also suggests that the building might be a concrete structure, rather than steel. It was the architect's first university contract, one of the first post-war university buildings, and the first major contract for Spence's new practice. The first phase on the N of the site, begun in 1948, was for the internationally important research work of Professor Dee, a leading figure in particle physics. Structurally demanding, it housed the 300 million watt Synchrotron, which generated gamma rays. Phase 2 links the first extension to the 1906 Miller building and contains mainly teaching facilities, including a 150-seat concrete lecture theatre.

The building is largely externally unchanged, including the metal-framed windows, and retains many original internal features, including the lift and the massive metal doors to the synchrotron chamber. Some original Spence-designed furniture is still present. In 2006, internal alterations were made to the W block to provide computer labs.

Formerly listed as '1J Gilmorehill, University of Glasgow, Natural Philosophy Building'.

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, 3rd Edition, 1909-10; Glasgow University Archives, Drawings Collection Ref. GB 0248 GUA BUL/6/10/1-41, Papers of Phillip Ivor Dee (Regius Professor of Natural Philosophy, 1943-72) Ref. GB 248 DC 134, and Photograph Collection Ref. PHU/20; RCAHMS, Henry Bedford Lemere Collection (photographs of the building in 1909), ref. BL20570-20574, Sir Basil Spence Archive (perspective sketch and correspondence/miscellanea), ref. DP028462, MS2329/X/16,19,42,45, Spence, Glover & Ferguson Collection (drawings, photographs and sketches), refs. SGF1940/1/1-57, B78676 and B78682, and RCAHMS 1991 photographic survey, ref. B70272-70293; 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) pp. 341-342; A Sloan, James Miller 1860-1947, (1993), pp. 25-26; B Edwards, Basil Spence 1907-1976, (1995), pp. 46, 48, 57; M Glendinning (ed.), Rebuilding Scotland, (1997) p. 95; 'Natural Philosophy Buildings' search at and 'Glasgow University Natural Philosophy' at (accessed 03 03 2010); K Smith, The Heritage of Particle Physics at Glasgow (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.

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Printed: 06/10/2022 10:32