Egyptian Halls, Union Street, Glasgow, by the Glasgow architect Alexander "Greek" Thomson (1817-1875). Built in 1870-72, this eighteen-bay block was constructed of polished ashlar with a cast-iron frame, as explained on the Canmore site. Robert Crawford describes it with more of a flourish as "monumental," and distinguished by "Assyrian scroll capitals topping slim piers" (286). This design was both a deliberate riposte to the Gothic Revival, with its reliance on arches and its historical connections with Roman Catholicism, and an expression of Thomson's deeply held belief in its superior strength. To him, the piers exemplified "an economy of means and stability of structure that puts the arch to shame” (qtd. in Crawford 286). It is not at all surprising to learn of his bitter disappointment when the commission for Glasgow University went to George Gilbert Scott. Sadly, the Canmore details come from the "Buildings at Risk" register for Scotland.

Related Material

Photograph by Thomas Annan, shown in the Europa Nostra (cultural heritage organisation) photostream on Flickr, and identified there as available for reproduction on the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) Licence. Text by Jacqueline Banerjee.


Crawford, Robert. On Glasgow and Edinburgh. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2013.

"Glasgow, 84-100 Union Street, Egyptian Halls." Canmore. Web. 3 November 2020.

"Glasgow, 84-100 Union Street, Egyptian Halls." Buildings at Risk Register for Scotland. Web. 3 November 2020.

Created 2 November 2020