McMillan Reading Room


The McMillan Reading Room, also known as the 'Round Reading Room,' was designed by T. Harold Hughes and David Stark Reid Waugh between 1936 and 1939, and renamed in memory of University benefactors, Robert and Edith McMillan. This A-listed building was awarded a Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) bronze medal in 1950 for the best building erected in Scotland during the period 1936-1949.

It was built on the site of New Hillhead House dating from c1850. The house was gifted to the University in 1917 by the family of Walter MacLellan of Blairvaddick (1815-89) in his memory. A bust of Walter MacLellan currently sits inside the Reading Room. The Psychology, Russian and Celtic departments occupied the villa in the 1930s.

Since the reading room situated in the south-east quadrangle of the Gilbert Scott Building was no longer able to accommodate the number of students or sustain the required longer opening hours, Principal Hetherington requested urgent funds for a new reading room. The University Grants Committee gave a grant of £15,000 and the Bellahouston Trustees gave a further £7,500 towards the estimated construction cost of £20,000.

Hughes presented a number of alternative designs in January 1938 which involved a U-plan courtyard arrangement of potential future buildings around the south, west and north sides of the reading room, leaving the east side open towards Thomas Lennox Watson's Wellington Church of 1883-1884. The plan was also meant to incorporate a square clock tower. In the end only the Reading Room was built. The monumental circular domed building is meant to be a modern interpretation of the Pantheon in Rome.

The new Reading Room was built to meet the primary needs of students in first and second year courses in all Faculties and have the longest opening hours of any unit in the library system at the University. It was used as ancillary accommodation for the library in the Gilbert Scott Building until the construction of the current Library in the late 1960s.

Continuing to change with the times and demands, the Reading Room service was transferred to the Main Library and the building now houses a student help-desk and IT Education Unit.


McMillan Reading Room
82 University Avenue
G12 8QQ
Record last updated: 20th Jun 2016

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