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When Glasgow first lit up (electrically) in the 1800s, it was run by small power stations built in the vernacular brown brick. Today one of these sites has been transformed into the Hotel Indigo Glasgow, where you can dine at the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse amid Victorian cornicing and gaze out at the pillared facades of Waterloo Street.
Like its sister city Edinburgh, Glasgow has made good use of its heritage architecture. Designers have found fresh, contemporary ways of updating the interiors while still preserving the rich exteriors. To see the finest examples of old architecture made new, visit these key sites:
The Lighthouse (11 Mitchell Ln) Located just five minutes from Hotel Indigo Glasgow, the Lighthouse is the first public commission by Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. For 85 years, the Glasgow Herald published out of this sooty red-brick building. Today you can wind up the new steel staircase to floodlit, glass-walled galleries featuring digital design, contemporary photography, and weekend printmaking workshops.
Gallery of Modern Art (Royal Exchange Square) This neo-classical temple once housed the financial exchange. A striking modernist mosaic in the old pediment is the only clue to its new function: a repository for innovative fine art. Inside, Corinthian pillars and coffered ceilings are striking foils for wildly painted floors and vibrant sculptures.
Transmission Gallery (18 King St) On King Street, Transmission Gallery shows young conceptual artists: Turner Prize-winner Douglas Gordon got his big break here. This former tenement building underwent a gallery-white restoration and paved the way for the neighbourhood’s regeneration.
Britannia Panopticon (117 Trongate) Another Victorian relic, the Panopticon is the world’s oldest surviving music hall. Most evenings it hosts new live music and fringe theatre, but you can peek inside the throwback interior on weekdays from 12–5 p.m.
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Glasgow Film Theatre (12 Rose St) This theatre is one of few Art Deco masterpieces that remain from Depression-era Glasgow. Since opening in 1939, the cavernous dark-brick space has served as an art-house cinema. It’s had a glamorous revamp—including the addition of a third theatre enveloped in contemporary wood—and now hosts the Glasgow Film Festival every February.
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A photo posted by Glasgow Film (@glasgowfilmfest) on