Built in 1903-04 this is the earliest reinforced concrete (ferro concrete) building in Scotland. The building was designed by Brand and Lithgow and engineered by Archibald (Archie) Leitch (1865-1939), an engineer who went on to become the foremost designer of football grounds of his generation and an innovator in the use of steel construction. The building is a purpose built former engineering works in Glasgow. The building uses the patented 1892 system by the French engineer Francois Hennebique which uses iron encased in concrete creating a strong lean fireproof structural system whereby the reinforcement gives the structure the tensile strength concrete lacks when used on its own. This structural system has been developed and alongside steel framed structures remains the most popular structural design system to this day in larger buildings, albeit it now using steel reinforcement rather than the early use of iron.
The Polmadie Street building was built as an engineering works with pattern-making shop and offices for the firm Alley and MacLellan. It is a four storey structure with a long rectangular plan shape with a south facing front elevation with 12 window bays and the main entrance located on bay six counting from the west end of the building. The structural frame is visible throughout with a grid like frame with concrete infill panels. The entranceway opens into a double height lobby with a limited amount of decorative flourishes of a streamlined, purposeful and modern type, with an elegant restrained beauty. From the first floor the stair continues to rise from this location up to the top floors.
The building has been vacant since the 1960s with signs of numerous break-ins. The condition is consequently very poor, the interior has been entirely stripped, although this has proved beneficial as it has made the building fireprooof by the removal of all combustible materials. The long large internal spaces are open plan and entirely free of columns with light flooding in from three sides; this is the benefit of the reinforced concrete frame. Centrally around the staircase area the building is subdivided into numerous rooms. The concrete is repeatedly chipped and scarred both internally and externally with many instances of heavily corroded exposed reinforcement clearly visible. Internally there is some polling of water on the upper floors indicating the leaking of the flat roof, and a few windows are entirely missing leaving voids in the wall, and a great many others have over the years had their glass smashed. The building is category A listed (date of listing 13/05/1991).
references: Scottish Dictionnary of Architects: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=202257.
Small, S., 2007, Greater Glasgow, Edinburgh, RIAS.
Interior shots to be added on a new page shortly....
The Polmadie street address: 61-89 Jessie Street, Polmadie, Glasgow, G42 0PG
Latitude / Longitude: 55.835211,-4.242139
Site visit: 16 May 2012
view of a window on the south elevation. External columns of the frame flank the window and the glass is entirely smashed. The surface treatment of the concrete can be seen to have come away at numerous sites, and to the top right a large piece of concrete has fallen away with exposed reinforcement revealed below (16/05/2012)
view looking west down the long front (south) elevation (16/05/2012)
the double entranceway is at bay six on the front elevation (16/05/2012)
view up the front elevation with the gridded window over the front door flooding the lobby with light (16/05/2012)
attached metal grilles at lower level have been attached in an attempt to secure the building (16/05/2012)
exposed reinforcement can be seen to be heavily corroded where the concrete has come away. The aggragte making up the concrete can be seen clearly (16/05/2012)
view east of the ground level main door (16/05/2012)
some windows are entirely missing openign the building entirely to the detrimental effects of the weather (16/05/2012)
exposed reinforcement, note, the window can be seen to actually be of timber constrcution, rather than the metal frames one might at first suspect (16/05/2012)
west elevation with three bays and view eats down the long front (south) elevation (16/05/2012)
view up the western-most bay of the front elevation (16/05/2012)
east elevation (16/05/2012)
view east down the rear of the building, with numerous openings for winching in and out materials from each floor and elegant cast iron elements (16/05/2012)
cantilevered concrete platforms protrude from the rear of the building (16/05/2012)
underside of a protruding cantilevered reinforced concrete platform (16/05/2012)
one of the numerous elegant cast iron fittings at the rear bolted to the building (16/05/2012)
view up and west across the rear elevation (16/05/2012)
repeated smashed windows at the rear (16/05/2012)
single window bay at ground floor level at the rear (16/05/2012)
whilst some windows at the front are timber, here at the rear is one of the metal windows (16/05/2012)