The Lighthouse

A new life for a valuable endangered building

In 1995, Page\Park won a limited competition to develop a new centre for architecture and design in Glasgow. The project aimed to preserve the 1895 Glasgow Herald Building on Mitchell Street, with an emphasis on generating revenue through an integrated retail function to sustain the centre. While the local firm Honeyman and Keppie were the architects of record, the influence of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who worked in their office at the time, was substantial.

Page\Park’s approach to Scotland’s National Centre for Architecture, Design, and the City involved minimal alteration to the Mackintosh building. Two new structures were added: a vertical circulation and service foyer on the East side, reaching the building’s full height, and an addition on the South side accommodating essential ancillary functions. The ground floor of the existing building was repurposed for retail. Within the existing building’s corner tower, a hanging spiral staircase was added, connecting the Mackintosh gallery to a rooftop balcony with panoramic views of Glasgow

Circulation and Spatial Quality

The critical question posed was whether a tall, narrow building on a constrained city centre site could have an economically viable future, essential for its conservation. Through a thoughtful analysis and understanding of the original architect’s vision, Page\Park introduced a major new structure while respecting the original’s essence. This conservation effort transformed the space, allowing access to galleries, a restaurant, conference suite, shop, and more.

The Lighthouse, strategically positioned in a unique flaw in the city grid, stands at the intersection of West Nile Street and Mitchell Lane. The new circulation structure notches into Mitchell Lane’s side wall, contributing to the spatial quality and characterizing the relationship with the existing Herald building and the city. The careful insertion of a contemporary, suspended spiral staircase preserves the original stone structure while offering a new rooftop perspective.

Our analysis included interpreting the symbolic decoration of the existing building’s facades, revealing a transformative narrative from ground to roof level. The project successfully relieved the dense nature of Mitchell Lane, allowing it to breathe through the inset and extension of the circulation volume.

New Elements

The new extension, discreetly positioned behind Mackintosh’s listed Glasgow Herald building, serves as the entrance and vertical circulation hub. With its transparent design, it naturally guides visitors to explore upper levels. By concentrating vertical circulation in the extension, substantial alterations to the historic building were minimized. The existing tower became accessible through a suspended staircase, and a new glazed tower was added for panoramic views.

Clever fire engineering solutions brought openness to the planning, enabling displays in circulation spaces. This strategic design ensured that as visitors move through the building, information and exhibitions seamlessly integrate into the overall experience. Opened as Scotland’s Centre for Architecture, Design, and the City, this project not only preserved a historical landmark but also contributed positively to Glasgow’s economy and culture.

Project Info

Glasgow 1999 Festival Company
Mitchell Lane, Glasgow
Internal Floor Area
February 1999
Conservation Consulting
Graphic Design
Urban Planning
Project Manager
Douglas Harper
Structural Engineer
Thorburn Colquhoun
M&E Engineer
Oscar Faber
Cost Consultant
Melvile Dundas
David Churchill
Planning Supervisor
Oscar Faber
Clerk of Works
Glasgow City Council Building Services
Signage, Exhibition Fitments, Reception Desk
Lighting Design
Jonathan Spiers and Associates
Javier Mariscal
Mackintosh Exhibition Installation
Gareth Hoskins Architects