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Perth Road, University of Dundee, the Tower

A Category B Listed Building in Dundee, Dundee

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Latitude: 56.4572 / 56°27'26"N

Longitude: -2.9781 / 2°58'41"W

OS Eastings: 339815

OS Northings: 729882

OS Grid: NO398298

Mapcode National: GBR Z92.Q9

Mapcode Global: WH7RB.7Y3P

Entry Name: Perth Road, University of Dundee, the Tower

Listing Date: 4 March 2008

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 399857

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51058

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dundee

County: Dundee

Town: Dundee

Electoral Ward: West End

Traditional County: Angus

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Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners (A F D Crawley, project architect), 1958-61. Charles Gray (Builders) Limited, contractors. 4th floor reworked 1999-2000 by James F Stephen Architects, Glamis. Fine example of one of Scotland's earliest constructed multi-storey towers sited on raised ground with landscaped gardens fronting principal S elevation to road. 12-storey with basement and roof terrace. Rectangular-plan, Modernist style tower on N-S axis with 3-storey and basement, horizontal flat-roofed wing incorporating further roof terrace and double-height lecture theatre projecting at E; later teaching wing to W. Reinforced concrete frame with facings predominantly of Auchinlea stone. Some faience tiles (vitreous enamel panels) with horizontal bands of glazing and cedar panelling. Cedar frames to aluminium horizontal sliding windows.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: principal SE elevation with entrance at base of tower incorporating steps up to deeply set replacement door and 2 window bays above rising through all floors; cantilevered bays wrap around SW angle at 4th floor; vertical sandstone band to right punctuated by small vertical windows; 3-storey wing at outer right includes cantilevered 1st floor below roof terrace and taller lecture theatre at outer right with double-height transomed windows at upper floors. Rear elevation to NW with timber-framed glazed doors under jettied canopy on simple pilotis. SW side elevation of tower comprises 5-bay window bands wrapping around angle at outer right, and vertical sandstone band at left.

INTERIOR: Tower: original room plan largely extant, including open-plan ground floor reception area with front to rear circulation, and university War Memorial, stair to W and 3 timber-fronted lifts to E. Internal accommodation comprises administrative and staff offices and meeting rooms with 1st floor Lamb Gallery and exhibition space, 2nd floor opening into horizontal NW wing, 4th floor (reworked) Principal's Office (former Senate Room) and 12th floor café. Hardwood doors largely retained, replacement timber fire-doors at stair; timber finishings and granite window cills. Some former lecture rooms have timber-lined cupboards. Some original urinals and toilet cubicles. 3-storey wing incorporates lecture theatre (former library), conference suites and administrative offices; square-plan staircase and small turnpike style staircase, both cantilevered. Hardwood doors, stair balustrades, handrails and trims.

Statement of Interest

Opened by the Queen Mother on 20 October 1961, Dundee University's Tower (formerly known as the Arts Tower) is a high quality, early example of Scottish Modernism adapting to the multi-storey style and, like the David Hume Tower in Edinburgh (see below), it was responding to the aspirations of the nation for its post-war Higher Education system. One of Scotland's earliest constructed multi-storey towers, it is set back from the road on raised ground and is unexpectedly unobtrusive. Designed to signal the entrance to the University, the Tower combines the vernacular elements of rubble and timber cladding, introduced by Matthew at Turnhouse Airport (1953-56), with new multi-storey design techniques. It is described by Glendinning as "The most fully developed example of Matthew's rubbly, timber-clad Modernity of the 1950s, before new interpretations of Functionalism began to surface in his office in the early 60s". Other key Modernist buildings by the Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall Partnership include the University of Edinburgh, David Hume Tower (1960-63) (see separate listing) and the Stirling University complex (1966-72).

The Dundee College was founded in 1881, and in 1897 it became part of St Andrews University, at which time it was known as University College. It became The University of Dundee in 1967. The Baxter family, owners of The Dens Mills, were significant benefactors of the University, and the Tower's east wing houses the Baxter Suite and Baxter Lecture Room in recognition of their generosity. Part of the later west wing, which has largely taken over as the teaching space, appears in the RMJM 1956 Development Plan.

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