Bruntwood SciTech’s plans to transform Glasgow’s iconic Met Tower have been approved by Glasgow City Council, with the first interior images of its reimagined future also revealed. The decision will see the UK’s leading developer of city-wide innovation ecosystems and specialist environments create a new tech and digital hub in the heart of the city centre within the Glasgow City Innovation District.
The approved plans mark a significant milestone in preparation for the refurbishment of the former City of Glasgow College, Grade B-listed building, bringing it back into use ready to open in Winter 2025 following a 10-year period of vacancy. The £60m investment will also see Bruntwood SciTech create a new 10 storey tower which will interconnect with Met Tower via a new wellbeing plaza space.
Combined, the two towers, on the doorstep of Queen Street Station, will offer more than 200,000 sq ft of serviced and leased office space to supercharge the growth of the city’s tech and digital sector. Enabling works on the site are underway and will continue for the remainder of 2023, with construction work expected to commence on Met Tower from spring next year.
New images have now revealed the scale and quality of what can be expected from the new-look Met Tower, including a 60-person rooftop flexible event space which will offer unrivalled views across the city and become home to many of Glasgow’s tech sector events and meetups, the versatile breakout lounge space for all startups, scaleups and large businesses in the building to use and collaborate in, and its 16 person boardroom.
The milestone for Met Tower follows Bruntwood SciTech’s recent announcement that it has secured a further £500m of investment and welcomed a third investor to the partnership, Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF), alongside existing partners Bruntwood and Legal & General. This is the first direct and active investment by a local authority pension fund into a UK-wide science, tech and innovation specialist property platform.
The new investment makes Bruntwood SciTech the largest dedicated property platform serving the UK’s innovation economy, and it has plans to create a £5 billion UK-wide portfolio that can support 2,600 high-growth businesses by 2032. A significant increase in investment from Legal & General and Bruntwood has been made through cash and asset transfer, whilst GMPF has injected £150 million that will support the UK’s target to become a global science and technology superpower by 2030. In Scotland the new capital will be used to transform Met Tower, as well as to expand Bruntwood SciTech’s portfolio further in both Glasgow and in additional R&D intensive locations across Scotland to provide much-needed lab and office space for science, technology, and innovation-led businesses.
Its forthcoming transformation of Met Tower will see the iconic structure evolve into a hub where tech and digital university spinouts, startups, scaleups, and global tech businesses can co-locate and benefit from being part of an innovative, collaborative tech cluster, with world-class workspace available for two people through to large businesses requiring multiple 10,000 sq ft floors.
Businesses locating to the new cluster will gain access to Bruntwood SciTech’s UK-wide network, enabling them with the opportunity to collaborate with a 1100-strong sector-specialist community of tech and science businesses, as well as specialist support which provides access to highly skilled STEM talent, new markets, funding and finance support, and professional services advice. The new hub will join the rapidly scaling science and tech sector in Glasgow, which is now in the top three leading tech cities in the UK outside of London, and will be surrounded by exciting tech startups and highly skilled talent coming out of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University and the City of Glasgow College.
Both buildings have been designed in line with the UKGBC and LETI net zero carbon targets for operational and embodied carbon. The new tower will be net zero carbon in construction and both buildings will be net zero operationally in their shared spaces. Development activity at Met Tower is expected to retain as much of the building’s existing structure as possible, significantly reducing the embodied carbon impact of the re-development. The approved plans also include carefully selected materials to reduce the environmental impact of the building, vertical fins for active solar shading, and expectations to achieve BREEAM Excellent status, a NABERS 5 Star rating and an EPC A rating once operational. Both buildings have been designed in line with smart technology and wellbeing principles and will feature extensive biophilia.
The detailed scheme outlines how the existing 110,000 sq ft 14-storey Met Tower will be redeveloped to offer 2-40 person serviced offices and larger leased office space, accompanied with multiple meeting rooms including a 16 person boardroom, flexible breakout spaces, a wellness and treatment room, grab and go cafe, and multi-faith room. In efforts to retain as much of the original tower’s structure as possible, Met Tower’s recognisable ‘upside down boat’ roof structure will be retained and transformed into a 60 person lounge and double height event space with floor to ceiling windows, innovation hub, and an expansive view that will reach as far as Ben Lomand. The leased space available on the first floor will have its own private entrance onto a new plaza space, whilst the 13th floor has its own unique, private staircase directly into the lounge and event space above.
The 95,000 sq ft new 10 storey tower will offer medium-large office spaces, along with breakout space opening out into the new plaza, a grab and go cafe, speed gates for additional security, a secondary retail space, and a roof terrace, with direct access into all facilities in Met Tower.
Both buildings will be interconnected by a double height atrium which will provide wellbeing and leisure facilities, including a wellness workout studio, showers, changing facilities and a sports kit drying room, and a large, secure cycle store with repair and maintenance stations. The landscaped space between the buildings and in front of Met Tower will become unique public open spaces for the city to improve connectivity to and from the neighbouring Queen Street station on North Hanover Street.
Daron Williams, Building Consultancy Director, Bruntwood SciTech, said: “Glasgow is already on its way to becoming a world-leading tech hub and one of the UK’s fastest growing clusters, and with approval of our plans now confirmed we’re very much looking forward to Met Tower becoming the beacon for the tech community in the city. We’re proud to be playing our part in galvanising the tech momentum in this city and couldn’t be better placed to do so in the heart of the city centre and Innovation District – surrounded by two brilliant universities, an exceptional College, and several established alternative training providers who will ensure that the businesses who locate to Met Tower can tap into a strong, highly skilled talent pool.
“We said when we acquired the site last year that we would be working with momentum to bring this iconic building back into use after so many years being left vacant, and we’ve already been readying the site throughout the first half of this year for construction. This approval enables us to continue progressing forwards and whilst the site preparations continue the rest of this year we’ll be firming up our final design details and getting ready to start the refurbishment of Met Tower next year. ”
Cllr Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council said: “Bruntwood SciTech’s £60 million investment in the Met Tower is a huge vote of confidence in Glasgow’s growing reputation as an international centre of innovation, creativity and opportunity. It also recognises our vision for a changing city centre, one with new industries and new purposes and where innovation and technology are brought into the heart of city life. These plans show the transformational potential of the building in a part of the city already experiencing incredible change and I’m delighted the plans have reached this major milestone. Met Tower has been a Glasgow icon for 60 years and Bruntwood SciTech’s investment in this landmark will ensure it remains a symbol of the city for generations to come.”
Bruntwood SciTech’s investment into Glasgow signals its commitment to developing specialist ecosystems to support the growth of the UK knowledge economy, and particularly those working in science and technology. Glasgow joins Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation ecosystems that includes nine campuses and 31 city centre innovation hubs across Birmingham, Cambridge, Greater Manchester, Leeds, and Liverpool. As the Met Tower project develops, Bruntwood SciTech will be looking to recruit a locally based team in Glasgow.
A local team is working with Bruntwood SciTech on the redevelopment of Met Tower and the new tower, with planning consultancy from Savills, and working with Cooper Cromar, Ryden, Ekho Studio, Woolgar Hunter, Atelier Ten, and Thomas & Adamson, and supported by a wider team of consultants.