Radisson Hotel

Radisson Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland by Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects, 2002

Located in the heart of Scotland's largest city, Glasgow, the Radisson Hotel relates to the city's history, specifically in metal shipbuilding, over its surroundings of sandstone. The main facade, a copper wall pierced by a three-story box, resembles a sail, making this relationship apparent. Local architects Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop Architects chose the materials and form to break away from the tendency to build in stone in Glasgow. Instead they crafted a hotel progressive in its appearance, in a style more suited to cultural institutions than commercial buildings.

Inside is an extension of the exterior in its intelligent use of materials and a contemporary aesthetic. Clean lines, contrasting materials and effective use of natural and artificial light abound in an atmosphere suited to not only pleasing tourists, but convincing them to return. As more and more cities rely on tourism, coupled with the lure of culture and the need for commerce, the hotels they provide for the traveler become more and more important. If Glasgow's attempt to transform itself from an industrial city into a service-based city is to be successful, it must instill a sense of excitement in its new buildings to balance its history and lure the tourist/business traveler.

A recent development in hotel design favors a contemporary look, but its ultimate goal seems to be an integration into the urban fabric that blurs the lines between tourist and resident. No more is the hotel merely a place for the traveler to sleep. Now hotels intermingle uses in a way that tries to please everybody. Bars and cafes border the lobbies and the gift shops now resemble bookstores; all in a creative attempt to maximize activity and profit. This desire should not be frowned upon, though, because it stresses the importance of the city as a place of culture, business, interaction and acceptance. In these hotels, everybody is a guest, be it tourist or native, so everybody is equal and the atmosphere is positive, albeit expensive.

The Glasgow Radisson's architecture stresses the public realm, both in its lobby spaces and its exterior, the protruding box a sneak peek at the activities behind the copper curtain. A light well focuses the rooms internally, physically separating them from the life of the city outside, keeping the hotel as a place of rest and refuge. But its the architects ability to balance the requirements of the hotel program and its integration into the city that make it so successful. And its the copper-clad facade that gives the building its meaning, reaching back through history to find a symbol of Glasgow reaching beyond its boundaries, to the world outside and the world's discovery of Glasgow.