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Latitude: 55.8684 / 55°52'6"N
Longitude: -4.2945 / 4°17'40"W
OS Eastings: 256520
OS Northings: 666299
OS Grid: NS565662
Mapcode National: GBR 0BJ.J2
Mapcode Global: WH3P2.0R9K
Entry Name: Argyle Street, Kelvin Hall, Arena and Museum of Transport
Listing Date: 11 July 2001
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 395457
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB48034
Building Class: Cultural
Electoral Ward: Anderston/City/Yorkhill
Traditional County: Lanarkshire
Thomas P M Somers, 1926-27, exhibition hall, with later additions (1931 and 1938, by Somers), and alterations, converted, Glasgow District Council Architect's Department, 1984-88 to museum and sports complex: hall space by Considere Constructions Ltd. Substantial exhibition hall with palatial principal block in Baroque display to Argyle Street (responding to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum opposite), in red sandstone ashlar, extending back in red brick exhibition warehousing and service blocks with grey brick dressings and part base course, and with later grey brick elevations to E side and rear.
N (ARGYLE STREET) FRONTAGE: tall single, 2- and 3-storey, 11-bay twin-towered centrepiece with tall single storey 9-bay colonnaded porte cochere. Latter with pedestals to columns and outer piers, and with entablature, balustrade and dies above to balcony. Inner colonnade of square piers with steps (later tiling) up to inner pilastrade dividing 9 glazed bays with panelled timber lintel band at mid height above doors as horizontal divide. Glazed 9-bay pilastrade above, full entablature (mutuled cornice), balustrade, dies, urn finials and central tablet with carved armorial. Outer bays of central block as tower with monumental towerheads; 3-storey with angle pilasters capped with obelisk finials, pilaster strips dividing 3 windows to each floor and rising as brackets to cornice; towerheads over square-headed, keystoned rooftop shelters, recessing upward in layered ashlar bands to cornice, further balustrade and obelisk finials to angles, and crowned with leaded finials bearing bronze filigreed orbs. Lower 2-storey flanking wings of 8 bays set back slightly each side with anchoring pavilion ends: colonnaded screen of 7 bays with ashlar wall behind, each bay with tripartite stone mullioned window, entablature above with balustrade and dies acting as parapet to low upper storey and shorter stone mullioned tripartite windows set back, wallhead cornice and blocking course. Outer 8th bay pavilions terminating elevation in channelled masonry with screen of paired columns in front of window, mutuled cornice above. Massive square corner finials flanking squat octagonal 2nd stage, husk-garlanded oculus to each face, capped with leaded domes and obelisk finials. Decorative ironwork railings to window of E pavilion.
E (BLANTYRE STREET) ELEVATION: 2-part with red brick original section to right, and longer plain grey brick section to centre and left, 1970s. Right bays: red brick lower stage with red sandstone pilastered and keystoned square-headed vehicular opening to outer right (panelled folding timber doors); grey brick band dividing stages, and deep glazed brick band above with grey dressings, containing 9 regularly spaced square window openings and 1 louvred and enlarged opening; red sandstone corbel and band courses above with deep brick parapet-like wallhead. Centre and Left bays: grey brick with painted wallhead over sandstone dividing band; projecting white canopy with moulded frieze over entrance to centre with internal steps.
W (BUNHOUSE ROAD) ELEVATION: 5-part elevation. 1st part detailed as right bays of Blantyre Street with window band, but with long 5-bay white painted entrance arcade at ground, approached by steps; 2nd part projecting bays detailed as to 1st part but with 1984-88 re-working of lavatory block to left and lower, 2-stage curved engine house and store block projecting to right (added 1938) and with polygonal tapering red engineering brick stalk to right, and grey brick dressings to vehicular entrances, interspersed with further square windows, regularly disposed to upper stage; recessed 3rd, central part with white painted entrance arcade (as 1st part, accessed by steps) with 1984-88 bowed canopy extending at centre, on tubular metal supports with caged airy columns. 4th stage with projecting lower block of 1931 with further grey dressed carriage entrance; 5th stage with recessed tea room and 3-storey store with re-entrant angle filled with later single storey garage, and 4 stone margined carriage bays to right, single and bipartite windows to 2nd and 3rd stages, those to centre of original store with semicircular 2nd floor windows and both in arched recesses.
S (OLD DUMBARTON ROAD) ELEVATION: altered to E in 1970s, original red brick bays to W. Return of 3-storey store to outer left, 8 bays angled after 2nd bay with largely blank ground floor, tripartite windows to 2nd floor and semicircular windows in 3rd floor (in arched recesses) to outer left and 3 bays to right. Ground floor diminishing to basement status on ground rising to E. Brick screen wall to yard with stone piers. Grey brick addition of new rear entrance to penultimate right with 'Royal Festival Hall-inspired' monumental elevation and cantilevered canopy to stepped entrance with moulded frieze.
Plate glass fixed and casement Windows to Argyle Street front block with small-pane sash and case windows and border-glazed over door lights; classical cross glazing pattern to original windows of fenestrated band to side elevations; small-pane to stores. Border-glazed pedestrian doors; panelled folding and metal roller doors to vehicular openings. Pantiled piended roof to front range. Mass concrete 4-part reinforced concrete vaulting and roof trusses to exhibition hall, 390' at widest point in 3 vaults of 110' and 1 of 60'.
INTERIOR: Argyle Street frontage with sumptuous period classical decorative schemes in 'piazza' lobby and conference hall above at centre. Lobby with marble pilastrade and wall covering, plaster entablature with mutuled cornice and coffered sections; later tile flooring; panelled timber inner doors with brass kick plates. Conference hall above lobby, lit to hall side with leaded glazing and some coloured glass. Shop and offices layered in flanking towers with stair to rear. Offices to flanking wings and public toilets in outer pavilions. Hall of 171,000 square feet (15,885 square metres) with massive vaulted concrete roof, supported on 22 octagonal columns of 24" diameter, 55' apart from N to S; glazed ridged cupolas lighting. Galleried Tea Room to SW corner. Decorative iron balcony (cross-section pattern) above lobby entrance. Later additions and alterations.
Designed to complement the municipal display of Kelvingrove Park, in particular the nearby Gallery and Museum., and contributes crucially to Glasgow's most significant recreational space. Somers was the Council's Master of Works and Engineer, 1925-41. Considere Constructions were based at 72 Victoria Street, Westminster, and their designs for roofing Kelvin Hall in 1927 reportedly realised their widest span to date. Somers had worked previously with Considere in designing the city's King George V Bridge, 1924-27 and the Queen Margaret Bridge, 1926-29. The present building replaces an earlier temporary hall which was destroyed by fire in 1926. The orb finials to the Argyle Street towers allegedly reflected the hall's holistic purpose. The Hall served in the 2nd World War as the principal factory for the construction of barrage and convoy balloons. In 1951 it took the city's contribution to the Festival of Britain, the exhibition of Industrial Power. Annually it housed the Christmas circus and concert, in between a wide range of national and international exhibitions.
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