The Glasgow Western Infirmary stood for 141 years finally closing its doors to patients and students in 2015. This teaching hospital was crucial in the Universities move from the city centre to the West End abandoning the nearby Royal Infirmary as this was now considered too remote for the proposed new site. It was made clear in 1878 that the University would provide the land for the new hospital (Western Infirmary) on the condition that it could be re-acquired should the site be no longer used for healthcare. In recent years the university has paired up with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde to construct and develop the Queen Elizabeth Teaching and Learning Centre that is found on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. This brand-new facility somewhat overshadowed the Western Infirmary providing new state of the art learning and teaching environment for Glasgow’s medical and nursing undergrads as well as other clinical science postgraduate programmes looking to train the next generations.
Is knocking down the Western Infirmary really the worst thing in the world though? Although it is argued that there is ‘hardly a building as fine as the old G block on every corner,’ as mentioned in a recent article published in The Medusa Review, it does not mean that the new building will be of lesser value. In its place the University of Glasgow is developing a £113 million Research Hub that will bring together 600 academics including postdoctoral researchers and PhD students. The research will be spread over a broad spectrum from Technology for Life to international development. This is particularly important in current scientific advances and discoveries as it is often found that technology is halting development and not so much scientific knowledge now. The research hub would look to intertwine different disciplines from medicine, engineering and law to progress stem cell technologies, pharmaceutical production and quantum imaging and sensors to name a few.
To conclude, yes, the University may have demolished an iconic piece of architecture in the West End of Glasgow that will never be forgotten. However, with the QEUH taking over, more than adequately, the number of beds and services offered to patients as well as teaching and learning of a University Hospital was it becoming less invaluable to University. Furthermore, it is important to remember what is going in its place, a state of the art research hub that will keep Glasgow University at the forefront of research and development, attracting people from across the world.
-Lucy Rawbone, Science and Technology Editor