Transport museum fit for space age

30 Mar 2009

By Vivienne Nicol, Evening Times

A few short months ago, it was a hole in the ground. Today the site of Glasgow's new transport museum has the partial skeleton of a huge structure which will be one of Britain's great buildings.

Work started last year on the £74million Riverside Museum which will replace the Transport Museum in Glasgow's West End.

The new building sits where the Clyde and the River Kelvin meet and in a couple of months the final piece of steelwork will be put in place, with the occasion to be marked with a topping out ceremony.

Jim Ward, construction manager for contractor BAM, says it will be like launching a ship.

He said: "It will be a landmark for the project - a significant event in the construction process.

"That is when the guys will get together and celebrate the success of the project getting to such an important position."

Work on finishing the massive frame of the building will then press ahead until July. The enormous ground floor slab of the new museum is in place as is the central section of the building.

Around 100 men and five cranes are now working to complete its north and south wings.

Mr Ward said: "The building work has gone really well.

"We are pleased to get to this stage and pleased to see what is a complex structure going up. Now we can start working on the zinc cladding on the roof and the walls."

Normally, the cladding would be manufactured off site and transported to its destination.

But roofing and cladding sub contractor Varla from Chester has set up a manufacturing plant on site and will cut and mould 24,000 pieces of what will become a colossal jigsaw.

The silver sections, to cover 16,500sq m of the Riverside Museum and weighing 45 tonnes, will transform it into a space age structure. Around 10 workmen will produce the panels and double that number will fit the zinc - the first piece of which will be in place early in May.

Mr Ward says that while the Riverside uses traditional materials, there is little traditional in the way they are used.

He said: "We stretch them, twist them and elongate them in different ways. Nothing is normal about this building. It is a great adventure for us.

"That is down to the design of architect Zaha Hadid who has devised something iconic.

"It will be a civic structure Glaswegians will take to their hearts."

A tradition in Glasgow is for new buildings to be renamed - such as Clyde Auditorium being known as the Armadillo and the Clyde Arc being the Squinty Bridge.

Mr Ward believes it is almost certain the unusual looking Riverside Museum, due to open in 2011, will also find a special place in the hearts of local people.

He said: "We are hoping it gets a pet name."

Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group.

  • The steel frame of the new transport museum at Glasgow Harbour

Case Studies
  • Riverside Museum