chapter  2
WATCHING THE WORLD GO ROUND
Pages 20

Glasgow was designated ‘European City of Culture’ for 1990. This unlikely palm was sought, and subsequently used to justify, a dramatic shift in the national and international image of the city. From being a historic centre of industrial production, ruined by structural shifts in the economy and political neglect, its domestic architecture all but destroyed by the construction of urban motor-ways and short-sighted housing policies, Glasgow was to be reborn as the leisure capital of the north; a modern city of consumption. Nineteen-ninety was, in fact, the culmination of at least fifteen years of promotional image-making on the part of the city authorities. Whatever justification this policy might have had, and whatever benefits it might have brought (or more likely not brought) to the majority of its residents, central Glasgow, during this period, has been radically altered. Victorian façades have been cleaned and lovingly restored as office accommodation or preserved as traditional housing. And, though there has been much unimpressive speculative construction, more self-confident modern building has also begun to appear. The Royal Academy of Music and Drama has been imaginatively relocated adjacent to the new Royal Concert Hall, which was the most ambitious building project to be completed during 1990. On the south side of the city, in the grounds of Pollok House which had been gifted to the city some years earlier, a modern and innovatively designed museum was erected as the permanent home of the Burrell Collection.