Glasgow’s Reid Building mixes modern design with green credentials

  • 20 May 2014

The centre incorporates natural ventilation, green roofs and gravity-operated rainwater harvesting to deliver a BREEAM Excellent rating

This new building will provide the school with high-quality facilities to inspire creative education and research in the visual disciplines of modern times. The building houses a series of large, double height studios, lecture theatres and workshops, and is built over two basement storeys and five superstructure levels.

Arup worked with New York-based Steven Holl Architects and was appointed to provide a range of services on the project including structural, civil, geotechnical, mechanical, and electrical engineering; as well as lighting, façades, sustainability, acoustics, fire, energy, transport and venue consulting services.

“Building across from an architectural icon is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The client’s aspirations and Holl’s architectural vision required a holistic design approach involving a range of specialists working closely together. The finished building’s interior is a sculpture of concrete which works with natural light to provide great studio spaces interlinked with a winding stair. Dealing with these complex geometries provided a real challenge, bringing together a series of interdependent multidisciplinary considerations within the exposed structural form,” commented Derek Roberts, lead structural engineer, at Arup.

The building’s interior is a sculpture of concrete which works with natural light to provide great studio spaces interlinked with a winding stair

“From the outset was the desire to take a route up through the building as a hybrid between architectural promenade and atrium that promises an extraordinary spatial richness. The proportion of rooms, walls and materials are being crafted to bind the building together into a whole that is infused by an approach to environmental control and sustainability that emanates from the physique of the building… a design strategy that has been driven forward with a mixture of poetics and ruthless pragmatics – qualities that are singularly appropriate in this context, and developed with an artistry and skill,” explained Professor David Porter, head of the GSA’s Mackintosh School of Architecture.Arup developed an effective, low-energy design for the spaces above ground; using 5m diameter concrete driven-void tubes within the central atrium space as ventilation chimneys to provide natural air and light, to improve students’ concentration and learning.

The new purpose built academic facility was part of a £50m development project

Arup also proposed and implemented an upgrade to the GSA’s district heating as part of the scheme, changing from the old, inefficient boiler to a biomass system, which extensively lowered the carbon footprint of the campus including both the new Reid Building and the listed Mackintosh building. This complements a range of sustainability measures including natural ventilation, green roofs and gravity-operated rainwater harvesting to deliver a BREEAM Excellent facility.

The Reid building opened for student use in January 2014 and was officially opened on 9 April 2014. The building plays an integral part of GSA’s redevelopment strategy and brings together departments which were previously dispersed across the city into an efficient and sustainable location.

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