The sharp glass bulk of the new BBC Headquarters in Glasgow seems remarkably simple when compared with other recent landmark' buildings, such as The Scottish Parliament with its myriad contours. But the BBC did romp home on time and on budget - £188.4 million including land, a structure of over 34,000 square metres, all the technology and the not inconsiderable cost of moving everyone from its old HQ in Queen Margaret Drive.

The BBC had outgrown its west end premises and since a refurbishment of the old building would have been costly and disruptive, a new purpose-built space was decided upon. With the move came an opportunity to become an innovative broadcasting centre and the world's first fully digital operation.

As for location, Pacific Quay won out largely because of investment in the surrounding Clydeside area - it's also accessible thanks to the new squinty bridge', or to give it its Sunday name, Clyde Arc bridge, and aspires to be Scotland's media village' as SMG and Beat FM are also on the site.

David Chipperfield Architects designed the new building to accommodate digital broadcasting facilities, offices and public areas. The understated ethos of the London-based architectural practice, which foregoes headline-grabbing design in favour of that which priorities the user, appealed to the BBC - after all, the Corporation can make its own headlines. Yet it's easy to overlook this building's detail. The glazed façade, that delivers great views and maximises light, forms a double skin with a fixed outer layer and opening inside layer for natural ventilation.

Victoria Jessen-Pike, Director of David Chipperfield Architects addressed the diverse brief. "For the first time all broadcasting functions - radio, television and Internet - were to be brought together in a fully digital operation," she says, "and ways had to be found architecturally to encourage interaction between members of the large staff."

The solution is a stepped sandstone street' that rises over five levels, like stairs in a giant's house, through the building's length. Red sandstone was selected to be reminiscent of Glasgow tenements and a Dumfriesshire quarry was reopened to meet the order. Three broadcasting studios, including the largest in Scotland, rest beneath the sandstone, while open plan offices wrap around it and extend to the building's glazed fringes.

Breakout spaces and informal meeting spots further encourage movement around the street' and there are exposed concrete walls are a deliberately raw feature.

"The interior has a workshop' quality, and doesn't feel overtly corporate," explains Jessen-Pike.

For Graven Images (Glasgow) the architecture provided a rich starting point for interior design that reflects the corporation's creativity. "The environment had to be conducive to making great programmes whilst accommodating collaboration and new aspects such as public access," comments Ross Hunter, director of Graven Images.

Where possible Graven Images utilised Scottish suppliers such as The Rug Company (Glasgow), furniture by Ben Dawson and Timorous Beastie wallpaper in dressing rooms.

But Hunter believes it's the people that bring this building to life. "Like a television," he says, "it has to be turned on'."

Staff began to move in in April and by August all 1300 or so workers should be in residence.

The old headquarters was foliage-bound, so it is hoped that panoramas of a river city' offered by floor to ceiling windows should be uplifting for staff at Pacific Quay. The (licensed) top floor restaurant offers some of the best views in Glasgow.

"Byres Road is no longer on the doorstep so we wanted the canteen to look as good as a city restaurant," Hunter explains. "The bar is the focus, with the canteen and shop - selling emergency' items such as tights and aspirins - located behind, so they don't drain life from the place when they close."

Open plan work areas are in contrast to the warren-like Queen Margaret Drive (now to become a hotel) and Hunter admits that office dimensions - over 110 metres long - posed a challenge.

"Staff teams have to form and reform without moving a lot of furniture," he says.

Open shelving and storage break up spaces, as do two cheerful B&Q potting sheds. "These have serious and non-serious roles," says Hunter. "They're effective landmarks, quiet places for thinking, and amidst all the glass, their walls accommodate drawing pins."

An important new feature is public accessibility. The reception - so vast that a widescreen television seems scaled to doll's house proportions - allows the public to get close to the BBC . As well as allowing for projections of the television output, there's a backdrop that gives visitors a shot at being Heather the Weather. Guests will also appreciate the reception desk which is made from a huge girder.

"This is a broadcast building, not a bank," says Hunter. "The girder lends theatricality."

The BBC hopes its new home will stand them in good stead for more drama and light entertainment commissions. And for all involved in its design, a lifetime of spotting their work in the background of the BBC 's creative output awaits.

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