Towering over other buildings in the centre of Glasgow, the Met Tower is an integral part of the city’s skyline.

The addition of the recognisable ‘People Make Glasgow’ banner has ensured it stands out on any postcard of Scotland’s largest city.

Almost 60 years after it first opened its doors, it was recently widely reported to be the second “ugliest building in the UK” according to photography experts from

However, a top Glasgow architect has dismissed the “ridiculous” title for the B-listed building which was a lesson in elegance and even innovation when it was first built.

“As far as the importance of the buildings, I think it’s one of the best examples of modernist architecture, certainly in Glasgow, but I would also say in Scotland,” Professor Alan Dunlop said.

“It’s one of the finest and most elegant buildings built in the 1960s that Glasgow actually has.”  

When it opened as the Stow College of Building in 1964, the North Hannover Street premises was one of the first commercial high-rises in the city.

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It later underwent a merge becoming, as many will know it, the Glasgow College of Building and Printing.

Prof Dunlop added: “The buildings built in the 1960s and 1970s, there was a sense among architects who were working there at that time that they had a chance to do something pretty innovative and creative.

“The surfaces and forms in the Met Tower are very elegant.

“The glass fenestration for both the south and north elevations are very well refined. They use vitrolite, which is pigmented structural glass, and then the sides are travertine limestone.

“So there’s a real elegance about it in comparison to what would notably be recognised immediately as a brutalist structure although it does have brutalist elements to it.”

The Herald: Professor Alan DunlopProfessor Alan Dunlop

While the roof-top structures, which include space for a gymnasium, are built of exposed concrete often associated with the architectural style of brutalism, the architect emphasises the building is an example of “modernist principles” and “very refined architecture”.

He added that “no expense was spared” as far as the quality of the materials but that they have been weathered over the last few decades.  

“From the 1980s, I would imagine that the building started to deteriorate and the condition it is in just now I think frankly is just shameful,” he said.

One Glasgow-based artist, Natalie Tweedie, has also contested the ‘second ugliest building in the UK’ title.

Working under the pseudonym Nebo Peklo, the illustrator has taken on the challenge of illustrating buildings in the city which “some would consider to be ugly or ‘eyesores’”.

Her illustration of the former College of Building and Printing prompted a number of Glaswegians to reminisce about the building and defend its appearance.

Ms Tweedie said: “For me, I just love the way it looks – the symmetry, the geometric shapes and the simple materials used.

“The sides of the building are clad in a type of marble and this creates grids of a pattern.

"The concrete legs and structures on the roof are reminiscent of Le Corbusier architecture and I think it’s a really unique building in Glasgow.”

She added: “Why can’t concrete be beautiful?”

Prof Dunlop emphasised that the Met Tower follows principles of the earlier work of Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier, was known as a pioneer of modern architecture.

Both the illustrator and architect point out the V-shaped angled windows, with Ms Tweedie stating she created various drafts from different angles until finding one that highlights the unique feature.

Prof Dunlop added: “The other thing people really don’t recognise as much when they look at that building, they think it's like a rectangular slab but in fact it’s not, it’s a V on either side.

“It takes a very subtle change in direction and you don’t really notice that immediately when you look at the building from George Square.  That adds to the quality of the building.”  

Its rundown state and the pink wrap covering its south-facing vitrolite windows is expected to soon be a thing of the past.

Glasgow City Council has previously approved plans to convert the building into a 260-room hotel alongside office and retail space under Osborne and Co.

Prof Dunlop stated that it would have made a “spectacular” hotel with its windows providing view of the entirety of the south of the city and the Campsie Hills in the north.

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“If that was the case it would be one of the best hotels around and I say that having done the Radisson Hotel in Argyle Street,” he said.

However, last year the building was purchased by Bruntwood SciTech with plans to convert it into a science and technology hub.

The specialist property developer’s initial plans were to redevelop the Grade B listed building, which has been vacant for the last nine years, into 113,000sq ft of co-working space for expanding tech and digital businesses.

Bruntwood SciTech doubled its investment in the area to £60m later in 2022, with plans to add 100,000sq ft of workspace at an adjacent site to the Met Tower.

The developer also plans to transition the building to become Net Zero in its operations.  

Most recently, the council has approved proposals to demolish the adjacent podium building, with the developers announcing intentions to submit planning applications detailing plans for a new office building on the site.

Kate Lawlor, chief executive of Bruntwood SciTech, previously said: “Met Tower is a Glasgow landmark in a brilliant location for innovative tech and digital businesses.

“Not only is it in the heart of the city centre on the doorstep of Queen Street station and a short walk from Central station, its immediate proximity to The University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University and the City of Glasgow College – who we’re very keen to work more closely with – will provide a huge pool of exceptional talent to draw upon.”