Glasgow has tall order for Europe's architects

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The Independent Online
(First Edition)

GLASGOW, Britain's most image-conscious city, has challenged architects from throughout Europe to design a 300ft (91m) tower which would be its tallest building and a recognised landmark.

The competition, sponsored by the Glasgow Development Agency and an architectural consultancy, offers a prize of pounds 10,000, but there is no guarantee that the winning entry will make it off the drawing board. However, the sponsors hope that a commercial backer will be found in due course.

Professor Stuart Gulliver, the agency's chief executive, said: 'The challenge we are setting for design professionals is to create an urban icon that instantly denotes Glasgow throughout the world.

'We are making a substantial statement about the future face of this city for the next millennium.'

The structure would symbolise the city's recent renaissance, and would offer panoramic views of a post-industrial success story.

From its viewing platform, Glaswegians and tourists could marvel at the tidy rows of Victorian tenements sandblasted back to their pink and honey-coloured splendour. They could also take in all the chic bars and bistros that have transformed the ambience of the city. They might even scan the cleaned-up river Clyde.

The definition of a tourist in Glasgow used to be someone who was lost. But this changed dramatically in 1988, when record numbers were enticed to Clydeside by a garden festival carved out of reclaimed dockland.

In 1990 - the year it revelled in the role of European City of Culture cents Glasgow welcomed 3 million visitors and achieved the status of Britain's third-biggest tourist destination. However, since those promotions tourist numbers have declined.

A recent spate of unprovoked stabbings have also taken some of the gloss off the new Glasgow, reviving memories of the rival razor gangs which long tarnished the reputation of Scotland's largest city.

The police seem to have got to grips with this crime wave, but the root cause remains unchallenged. Male unemployment has risen to 21.5 per cent.

The Glasgow Development Agency remains determinedly upbeat, insisting that the city's regeneration will resume when the recession lifts.

'When you try to turn around any city it takes almost 25 years. Glasgow still isn't halfway through that process,' Professor Gulliver said. He insists that it is poised to resume its place in the league of great European cities.

Recently, the agency proudly announced that it had been appointed as consultant to the organisation charged with planning the economic revival of eastern Germany.

The Treuhand, the largest development agency in Europe, will pay the Glasgow Development Agency pounds 200,000 next year for its advice on how to regenerate cities run down by 40 years of Communist rule.

'If Glasgow needed any convincing of its new international image, this must be it,' Professor Gulliver said.

'This consultancy work is not only an honour for the Glasgow Development Agency as an organisation, but a testimony to the city's hard work in picking itself up from the decay of the Sixties and the Seventies.'