Resulting from a limited competition, Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects’ design for the 250-bed, five star hotel results from a brief to create a memorable and dynamic new hotel, and to push forward the boundaries of corporate hotel design. The building is on Argyle Street, one of the city's oldest thoroughfares, and the screen to the front allows the Architects to respect and continue the scale of the street whilst creating a taller building behind.
Copper was chosen because the Architects wanted to use an ‘indigenous’ Glasgow material - but in a thoroughly new way. Pre-formed copper ‘shingles’ were used generally, which proved to be the least problematic elements of the building due to careful detailing, setting-out and installation. Today, pre- and post-patination techniques are available to provide straightaway copper’s distinctive green patina which otherwise takes several years to develop in the environment and these were used on the copper screen.
This lightweight and engineered foil to the building’s frontage allowed some flexibility of form and the elevation could therefore exploit a shift in Glasgow's strict city grid line at the entrance to the hotel and help create a generous public space in between.
The curve of the copper screen also enabled a suite of specialist rooms to cantilever through the copper wall to form a dramatic set-piece in the elevation with a glass bridge inside the hotel to access rooms. Here, an area of horizontally orientated copper cladding, using varying panel widths, is used to expressively cut through the main screen. As a counterpoint to the flexible and lightweight screen, the main part of the hotel was designed to be solid and here slate was used. In between the monolithic residential accommodation and light-weight frontage, the Architects squeezed an "internal street" atrium containing the hotel's reception, bars and restaurants.
The back of the copper wall is faceted so that visitors can view slithers of the Heilanman’s Umbrella and interesting buildings by James Thomson and Alexander Thomson from various points in the hotel. The screen is finished internally in water-resistant mahogany timber panels as used in yacht design.