Pontecorvo Building


The Genetics Building, now Pontecorvo Building, was designed by Basil Spence & Partners in 1961 and completed by Thomas M Gray of the successor firm, Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson in 1966. The building opened in 1967 providing a purpose-built department of Genetics.

In 1956 Principal Hector Hetherington was determined to create a centre of medical excellence based around the first institute of Virology in a British university and a purpose-built department of Genetics. These were to be built on the site of the old Anderson College of Medicine which was acquired in 1947. Designs put forward in October 195 for Virology and Genetics proposed a two-phase scheme that would have involved the demolition of the old Anderson College building. Following discussions with the city planners, it was decided that the old College building should be retained and that the new buildings would be built on the corner of Church Street and Dumbarton Road on a site occupied by nine tenement flats and six shops. The new Genetics building consists of a nine-storey tower adjacent to Anderson College and the Institute of Virology is situated in a rectangular-plan four-storey block facing Church Street with a single storey ancillary L-plan range behind. There is a bridge link between Genetics and Virology at second floor level. The scheme for the Genetics building was worked up by David Rock from Basil Spence & Partners’ London office and then supervised by Peter Ferguson from the Edinburgh office.

After discussions with Professor Guido Pontecorvo the designs for the Genetics department were submitted for planning permission on 18 November 1960 and approved 10 January 1961. The building was completed by Thomas M Gray of the successor firm, Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson in 1966 and the building opened in 1967. The Genetics Building, much like the Institute of Virology, has a reinforced concrete structure designed with particular consideration for reducing vibration from the surrounding road network. The exterior of the building facing Dumbarton Road is covered in mosaic panels while the east and west sides are covered with exposed aggregate concrete panels.

In 1994 the Genetics Building was renamed in honour of Professor Guido Pontecorvo (1907-1999). Known as the father of modern Genetics, he was the University's first Professor of Genetics from 1955 to 1968.

The building has lain vacant from 2011 awaiting redevelopment.


Pontecorvo Building
56 Dumbarton Road,
G11 6NU
Record last updated: 15th Jul 2015

University Connections

Associated people