Glasgow University Union was founded in 1885 and accommodated in the John McIntyre Building, which opened in 1890. The premises became too cramped for the growing number of students at the University, and a new building at the foot of University Avenue was designed by Alan McNaughton of Arthur & McNaughton and erected between 1929 and 1931 with funds from the student welfare scheme that was set up in 1921 to reinvigorate student life. Stanley Baldwin, the former Primer Minister, officially opened the building on 12 December 1930.
Both the organisation and the building were often referred to as the "Men's Union" before women students were permitted to join in 1980. An extension to the Union, called 'The Hive', was designed by Keppie, Henderson & Partners and opened in 1965.