The Beresford Hotel: Glasgow’s first skyscraper – and an Art Deco classic

This has to be one of Glasgow’s most striking Art Deco buildings – and certainly the only one with a connection, albeit tenuous, to the Red Road flats.

The Beresford Hotel was built in 1938 at a cost of £170,000 as a statement of the modern city that hosted the Empire Exhibition.

It was designed, owned and managed by William Beresford Inglis, a Scottish architect who has worked and lived in Glasgow for most of his life. It was the tallest building in Glasgow at the time and is believed to be the city’s first skyscraper.

Shortly after opening, it was confiscated and used to house American and British soldiers during World War II.

From the mid-1950s it lost its status as the tallest building in the wake of the post-war housing boom. The Red Road’s eight towers are perhaps the best-known example of high-rise buildings. Now the 26-story Balgrayhill Towers in Springburn claim the title of tallest building.

In 1964 the Beresford was converted into student accommodation for the University of Strathclyde and served as that purpose until 2004. During this time an eighth floor was added to accommodate personal work in the kitchen and cleaning. This new floor is currently being converted into a penthouse.

In 2008 it was renovated into 121 private residences from the 161 rooms it previously had, and remains private residence today.

The latest addition to the building is the 1930s Art Deco style café, restaurant and nightclub on the ground floor, replacing the previous lounge. This space has been remodeled during the Covid 19 lockdown and has yet to reopen.

The Beresford’s main inspiration was American-Spanish cinema as well as building the courtyard center of traditional Spanish houses. Beresford’s fascination with American cinema is most evident in the fact that he also built four cinemas in Glasgow; including The Toledo in Muirend, The Boulevard (later renamed Vogue) in Knightswood and the Hippodrome in Oatlands.

There is a rectangular courtyard around which all the rooms are located. This style can be seen in many buildings around Glasgow.

The building is designed in Art Deco/Streamline Modern style. The most notable structural example of this style is the symmetrical geometric constructions on both sides and in the center of the main façade and at the corners. Another example is the asymmetric cartridges of the windows in the corridors overlooking the courtyard.

Inside there are other examples of Art Deco style, including the glass and wood revolving door and the grand dramatic staircases on either side of reception, preceded by a huge archway. The amazing mosaic floors and artworks at the reception embody the same style.

All of this has given the hotel its Grade I listed status and prestigious position in Glasgow’s architectural history.

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