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

THIS must be one of Glasgow’s most striking Art Deco buildings – and surely the only one with a link, however tenuous, to the Red Road flats.

The Beresford Hotel was built in 1938 for £170,000 as a statement of the modern city, which was hosting the Empire Exhibition.

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

Shortly after opening, it was requisitioned and used to billet American and British servicemen during the Second World War.

After the mid-1950s it lost its status as the tallest building during the post-war residential building boom. The eight towers of Red Road being perhaps the best-known example of high rises. Now, the 26-storey Balgrayhill tower blocks in Springburn claim the tallest building title.

In 1964, the Beresford was converted to serve as a student residence for the University of Strathclyde and served this purpose until 2004. During this period an eighth floor was added to accommodate the staff working in the kitchens and cleaning. This new floor is currently converted into a penthouse.

In 2008 it was refurbished as 121 private flats against the 161 rooms it had previously and today they remain private residences.

The last addition to the building is the 1930s Art Deco style café, restaurant and nightclub on the ground floor, replacing the previous lounge. This space was remodeled during the Covid 19 lockdown closure and is yet to re-open.

The main inspiration of the Beresford was the American/Spanish movie theater as well as the courtyard-centre construction of traditional Spanish houses. Beresford’s fascination for American movie theaters is most clearly shown by 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 the Art Deco/Streamline Modern style. The most remarkable structural example of this style is the symmetrical geometrical constructions at either side and center of the main facade as well as the corners. The asymmetrical pattern of the windows in the hallways looking into the courtyard are another example.

In the interior there are more examples of the Art Deco style, among them the revolving door of glass and wooden construction, and the big dramatic staircases at both side of the reception preceded by a huge arched doorway. The astonishing mosaic floors and art pieces on the reception encapsulate the same style.

All of this granted the hotel its listed status and renowned position in the architectural history of Glasgow.

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