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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Group Category Details: A - See Notes
  • Date Added: 15/01/1985


  • Local Authority: Glasgow
  • Planning Authority: Glasgow
  • Burgh: Glasgow

National Grid Reference

  • NGRNS 56939 66756
  • Coordinates256939, 666756


T Harold Hughes and D S R Waugh, 1936-39. Monumental Classical circular library with rectangular entrance block to S; axial alignment with Gilbert Scott Building. Reinforced concrete, clad between bands in yellow machine-made narrow 'Roman' yellow brick. Continuous stepped plinth.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: Tall arched, relief keyblocked, stepped entrance bay with simple doorpiece and 2-leaf doors at head of stair with graduated parapet walls, vertical glazing above; swept brass handles to glazed timber doors. Narrow, vertically linked windows with band between and dripmoulds, set in advanced panels. Rear entrance with simple die walls oversailing basement area. Drum supporting shallow saucer dome set back from parapet.

Metal windows. Domed roof; decorative rainwater goods.

RAILINGS, LAMP PIERS, GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: Ground level parapet wall with wrought-iron railings and 2 brick pier lamp standards with metal lamps. Coped boundary wall to University Avenue; bracketed pedimented caps to gatepiers (replacement gates).

Statement of Special Interest

McMillan Reading Room is part of an A-Group with, Lord Kelvin's Sundial, Gatepiers, Railings, Quincentenary Gates, Hunter Memorial, John McIntyre Building, Thomson Building, Pearce Building, James Watt Building and Gilbert Scott Buildings.

This is an exceptional example of a purpose built reading room designed for a higher education setting and dating from the mid 20th century. The building exhibits an innovative design style, particularly in its use of brick and concrete, and survive relatively unaltered, including a large number of interior fittings. The building is set on a prominent site within the university campus, with the entrance on axis with the gatepiers and boundary wall from Hillhead House which was formerly located on the site. The reading room would have formed the centrepiece of a redeveloped quadrangle of university buildings, but this plan was never realised. Nonetheless the building retains a prominent setting with surrounding landscaped grounds further contributing to its interest.

The Reading Room won the RIBA Bronze Medal, for the best building in Scotland 1936-49. It was funded from a bequest in memory of alumni, Robert and Edith McMillan, and cost £20,000 (approximately £575,000 in 2010). It was designed to house 565 of the 3000 undergraduates then matriculated at the University. The Reading Room was originally intended to stand in a courtyard formed by new University offices, lecture rooms and an art gallery, but the outbreak of the Second World War put an end to the building programme. The same architects were responsible for the contemporary Joseph Black Chemistry Building.

The Reading Room stands on the site of Hillhead House, a villa of circa 1850 built by the muslin manufacturer and calico printer, Andrew Dalglish. The walls and (repositioned) gatepiers fronting University Avenue presumably date from the construction of Hillhead House.

Formerly listed as '82 University Avenue, University of Glasgow, Reading Room'.

List description updated as part of review of the University of Glasgow Hillhead Campus, 2011. The building number is derived from the University of Glasgow Main Campus Map (2007), as published on the University's website



Ordnance Survey, Large Scale Town Plan: Glasgow, 3rd edition, 1934; Glasgow University Archives, Drawings Collection Ref. GB 0248 GUA BUL/6/22/1-28; RCAHMS, RIAS Collection, T H Hughes work books; Architects' Journal (06/06/1940); Builder Vol. CLXI, (17 Oct 1941) pp. 348-350; RIBA Journal Vol. 57, (December 1949) p. 72 (obituary of Thomas Harold Hughes); RIAS Quarterly 1950; F Sinclair, Scotstyle, (1984), p. 92; C McKean, The Scottish Thirties, (1987) pp. 40, 126; C McKean, D Walker, F Walker, Central Glasgow: Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland Illustrated Architectural Guide, (1989) p. 187; E Williamson, A Riches, M Higgs, The Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, (1990) p. 345; A L Brown, M Moss, The University of Glasgow: 1451-1996, (1996) p. 56; Gordon R Urquhart, Along Great Western Road - An Illustrated History of Glasgow's West End, (2000), pp. 146, 174; Gordon R Urquhart, Friends of Glasgow West - Hillhead Heritage Trail, (2008) Building No. 1; M Hansell, H Harris, M Reilly & G D Ruxton, Architectural Treasures of the University of Glasgow, (2009) p. 57; 'Reading Room' building search at (accessed 03-03-2010).

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The local authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see

Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at


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Printed: 28/05/2016 04:58