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Glasgow Science Centre

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Title: Glasgow Science Centre  
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Subject: Glasgow, Glasgow Tower, Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Architecture in Glasgow, Architecture in modern Scotland
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Glasgow Science Centre

Glasgow Science Centre, with IMAX cinema, Science Mall and Glasgow Tower buildings

Glasgow Science Centre is a visitor attraction located in the Clyde Waterfront Regeneration area on the south bank of the River Clyde in Glasgow, Scotland. Queen Elizabeth II opened the Centre on June 5th 2001. It is one of Britain's most popular places to visit and Europe's Best Science Centre. It is a purpose-built science centre composed of three principal buildings which are the Science Mall, an IMAX cinema and the Glasgow Tower. The Scottish tourist board, VisitScotland, awarded the Centre a five star rating in the visitor attraction category.[1] As well as its main location, Glasgow Science Centre also manages the visitor centre at Whitelee Wind Farm, which opened to the public in 2009.[2]


Science Mall

The Science Mall is a titanium-clad crescent shape structure. In architectural terms it represents the canted hull of a ship, a reference to the adjacent 'canting basin', where vessels were brought to have the marine growth removed from their hulls. The building houses three floors of over 250 science-learning exhibits, themed around three concepts, being 'explore and discover', 'science in action' and 'science and you'. As is usual for science centres, the exhibits aim to encourage interaction, and can be used or played with as part of the informal learning experience the centre aims to deliver. Visitors can access a Science Show Theatre and the Glasgow Science Centre Planetarium.[3][4] The planetarium contains a Zeiss optical-mechanical projector that projects images of the night sky onto a 15m diameter dome.[5][6]

IMAX Cinema

The IMAX cinema was the first IMAX cinema to be built in Scotland. The single auditorium seats 370 in front of a rectangular screen measuring 25 m by 18.9 m and has the capability to show 3D films as well as standard 2D films in IMAX format.[7] It opened to the public in October 2000, several months prior to the opening of the two other buildings.[8] On 6 September 2013, Cineworld agreed a 10 year lease to operate the IMAX cinema and opened a Starbucks on site.

Glasgow Tower

The Glasgow Tower was designed to be the tallest freely-rotating tower in the world. It missed its opening date in 2001 and has been plagued by problems ever since. It has been closed for over 80% of its life, and was closed from August 2010[9] until July 2014.[10]


View of the Glasgow Garden Festival site

Opened to the public in June 2001, Glasgow Science Centre is part of the on-going redevelopment of Pacific Quay, an area which was once a cargo port known as Prince's Dock.[11][12] The redevelopment started with the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988. As with the other National Garden Festivals, the 100 acres (0.40 km2) Glasgow site was intended to be sold off for housing development, but due to a housing slump in 1987, the developers were unable to develop the land as they intended, and the majority of the site remained derelict for years. Parts were finally redeveloped for the Science Centre and also Pacific Quay, including new headquarters for BBC Scotland and Scottish Television, opened in 2007. The Clydesdale Bank Tower was dismantled and re-erected in Rhyl in North Wales, however its spiritual successor came in the form of the Glasgow Tower as part of Science Centre complex, which stands on approximately the same spot.

The architects of the Glasgow Science Centre were Building Design Partnership, however the Glasgow Tower was originally designed by the architect Richard Horden with engineering design by Buro Happold.[13][14] It was built at a cost of around £75 million, including £10 million for the Glasgow Tower, with over £37 million coming from the Millennium Commission.[15][16]

Funding issues

In June 2004, it was announced that about a fifth of the workforce were to be made redundant following the creation of a funding deal with the Scottish Executive.[17] In June 2008, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Nicol Stephen, stated that Glasgow Science Centre was facing a 40% cut in government funding.[18] Prime Minister Gordon Brown commented on this issue during Prime Minister's Question Time saying, "It's unfortunate in Glasgow that as a result of the SNP, funding has been cut, and they will live to regret that".[19] Although funding for the Scottish Science Centres as a whole has actually increased, it is now being split between four centres using a formula based on visitor numbers, and Glasgow is the only centre to face a reduction in budget.[20] This led to the announcement in July 2008 that 28 full-time jobs were to be cut as a direct consequence of the cuts "in order to secure Glasgow Science Centre's future", according to the Chief Executive, Kirk Ramsay.[21]

In the media

Glasgow Science Centre is located in the Pacific Quay area, and as such, is surrounded by the media centres that form the Digital Media Quarter, a Scottish Enterprise development initiative,[22] With the opening of the new STV headquarters in June 2006 and the beginning of broadcast programming from BBC Pacific Quay in the summer of 2004, it can be expected that more programming will be filmed in the area.

In the CBeebies television programme Nina and the Neurons, the title character Nina is a neuroscientist who works at Glasgow Science Centre.[23] In reality, Nina is played by the actress Katrina Bryan who is not a staff member at Glasgow Science Centre.

Several programmes including CBBC's Do Something Different were filmed in and out of Glasgow Science Centre.

See also


  1. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre on". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  2. ^ """BBC News "Visitor centre showcases windfarm. 2009-08-25. Retrieved 2009-08-26. 
  3. ^ "MERO Construction website on the Glasgow Science Centre". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  4. ^ "Glasgow Science Centre webpage on the Science Mall". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  5. ^ "Zeiss Press release". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  6. ^ "Zeiss installation list". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  7. ^ "Big Movie Zone". Retrieved 2008-09-17. 
  8. ^ "Millennium Commission News October 2000". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  9. ^ "BBC News - Faulty tower: Glasgow's £10m white elephant".  
  10. ^ "BBC News - Glasgow Science Centre tower reopens".  
  11. ^ "BBC News report on the opening of Glasgow Science Centre". 2001-06-19. Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  12. ^ "Glasgow Architecture website on Pacific Quay". Retrieved 2008-04-26. 
  13. ^ "Horden Cherry Lee Architects". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  14. ^ "BDP Architects". Retrieved 2007-07-24. 
  15. ^ "HMie Review of the Contribution of the Scottish Science Centres Network". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  16. ^ "Millennium Commission Awards". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  17. ^ "BBC News Report". 2004-06-29. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  18. ^ "BBC News Report". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-07-02. 
  19. ^ "Evening Times News Report". Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  20. ^ "SNP News Release". Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  21. ^ "BBC News Report". 2008-07-03. Retrieved 2008-07-03. 
  22. ^ "Digital Media Quarter webpage". Retrieved 2009-08-10. 
  23. ^ "CBeebies Nina and the Neurons webpage". Retrieved 2008-04-28. 

External links

  • Official website
  • Photos of the Science Centre
  • Article on Construction of the Glasgow Science Centre
  • Photographs taken from the tower and of the tower
  • Online video of the view from the tower
  • Glasgow Science Centre - Clyde Waterfront Regeneration
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