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20 Buchanan Street

A Category B Listed Building in Glasgow, Glasgow

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.8587 / 55°51'31"N

Longitude: -4.2544 / 4°15'15"W

OS Eastings: 258992

OS Northings: 665135

OS Grid: NS589651

Mapcode National: GBR 0LM.NK

Mapcode Global: WH3P8.M09G

Entry Name: 20 Buchanan Street

Listing Date: 15 December 1970

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 375457

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB32632

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Town: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Anderston/City/Yorkhill

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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Description

Designed by John Hutchison, with details drawn by Andrew Black and assisted by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, this large department store in Glasgow's premier shopping street was re-built in 1889 for Robert Wylie Hill following a fire in 1888. It was damaged again by fire in November 1903, and reconstructed the following year when an additional storey was added.

Italian Renaissance-style six-storey commercial building with attic and three tripartite bays. It is built of orange-red Corsehill sandstone and has rows of large windows with the glazing set directly into the masonry. The ground floor has a modernised shopfront. The first, second and third floor bays are divided by pilasters of various sizes, either rusticated or banded; central lights to each bay with variously elaborated Ionic columns, second floor central light pedimented; panelled pilaster strips to fourth and fifth floors. Modillion cornice; central square-domed pavilion in attic, with elaborate pilastered and colonnaded details; pedimented flanking dormers. Plate-glass casement and top hopper windows with small-pane glazing to windows of south side.

Photographic evidence from 2012 (Mackintosh Architecture) indicates that unusual Ionic capitals, likely dating from 1889, remain on the ground and first floors of the interior.

Statement of Interest

Following a disastrous fire in 1888, the Wylie Hill store was rebuilt with a pond in the toy department to demonstrate mechanical ship-models, and sold a variety of goods from enamelled kitchenware to Indian-grown, own-brand tea.

The architect of the 1888-89 rebuilding was John Hutchison, though the design is believed to have been largely the work of his chief assistant, Andrew Black. The rebuilding of Wylie Hill's department store was one of the major works undertaken by John Hutchison during Charles Rennie Mackintosh's final year of apprenticeship in his office (1888-89). According to later recollections of a near contemporary in Hutchison's office, WJ Blain, Mackintosh designed the plaster Ionic capitals for the interior. Blain noted these as being '…brilliantly executed and showed surprising individuality.' (Mackintosh Architecture). The unusual Ionic capitals on the ground and first floors (photographed in 2012, Mackintosh Architecture), may be the ones that Mackintosh designed, and as such would be survivors from the 1889 building.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was born in Glasgow and is regarded internationally as one of the leading architects and designers of the 20th century. He became known as a pioneer of Modernism, although his architecture took much inspiration from Scottish Baronial, and Scottish and English vernacular forms and their reinterpretation. The synthesis of modern and traditional forms led to a distinctive form of Scottish arts and crafts design, known as 'The Glasgow Style'. This was developed in collaboration with contemporaries Herbert McNair, and the sisters Francis and Margaret Macdonald (who would become his wife in 1900), who were known as 'The Four'. The Glasgow Style is now synonymous with Mackintosh and the City of Glasgow.

Mackintosh's work is wide-ranging and includes public, educational and religious buildings to private houses, interior decorative schemes and sculptures. He is associated with over 150 design projects, ranging from being the principal designer, to projects he was involved with as part of the firm of John Honeyman & Keppie (Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh from 1901). The most important work during this partnership was the Glasgow School of Art (LB33105), which was built in two phases from 1897 and culminated in the outstanding library of 1907.

Other key works include the Willow Tea Rooms (LB33173), the Glasgow Herald Building (now The Lighthouse) (LB33087) and Hill House (LB34761), which display the modern principles of the German concept of 'Gesamtkunstwerk', meaning the 'synthesis of the arts'. This is something that Mackintosh applied completely to all of his work, from the exterior to the internal decorative scheme and the furniture and fittings.

Mackintosh left Glasgow in 1914, setting up practice in London the following year. Later he and Margaret moved to France, where until his death, his artistic output largely turned to textile design and watercolours.

Listed building record revised in 2019.

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