In 1951, Frank Mears submitted proposals for a major expansion of the University of Glasgow northwards into Hillhead. In the eighty years since the construction of Gilbert Scott’s monumental Gothic edifice, the University had outgrown its Gilmorehill site and much of the original accommodation had proved to be ill-suited to the requirements of modern academic disciplines.
With a view to maintaining a sense of unity in the expanded university precinct, Mears proposed the progressive transformation of the space between the existing Reading Room and the Scott Building into a “Great Central Court”. This would involve moving the main entrance of the Scott Building from its south to its north side, the grouping and design of new buildings on both sides of University Avenue in careful relation to the old, and the closing of the Avenue to through traffic to reduce noise and promote safety.
As with his earlier schemes for Jerusalem and Edinburgh, he sought to “combine the maximum of adaptability in construction of buildings with adherence to planning principles which will promote an environment of academic dignity” and he suggested that this could best be achieved by the development of a system of courts and quadrangles linked by tree-lined footpaths. As at Jerusalem, he recommended that, wherever possible, internal partition walls should be erected independently of the main structure in order to facilitate the rearrangement of accommodation as needs changed.
Perhaps with an eye to developments in Edinburgh, The Glasgow Herald commented in an editorial that: “The mistake will not be made at Glasgow that has been made at universities elsewhere of dispersing activities that ought to be part of the central framework of academic and corporate life.”