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Tower Building, University of Dundee  

Partial demolition and extensive refurbishment of Dundee University's iconic Tower Building, incorporating a reimagined Foyer Gallery

Project – Tower Building Redevelopment

Client – University of Dundee

Contract Value - NA


The Tower Building is a well-known landmark in the city of Dundee and iconic building for the University of Dundee. Opened in 1961 by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, it exemplified early Scottish modernist architecture and stands 140 ft tall.

The tower comprises ten storeys and is home to both academic and administrative departments of the university. It was built on the site of two of the original four Georgian houses which had housed University College, Dundee (originally known as Whiteleys) and its construction was notable as the tallest structure built in Dundee since the Old Steeple in the medieval period.

Almost all students at the University of Dundee, (including all the Architects at JPA!) will have been in the building at one point or another, and it has some of the highest footfall seen in the University Campus. The building also contains the Tower Foyer Gallery, the most prominent space on campus for exhibiting the University’s collections, with hundreds of students, staff and visitors to the University passing through each day.

After completing an earlier project to fully re-clad the tower building, we were again approached by the University to look at the crucial entrance areas – both internally and externally at ground floor level. The University was concerned that these spaces had become increasingly dilapidated in recent years, and the current spatial planning was not using the floor area efficiently for current requirements.

After visiting the building we produced an initial assessment report, focussing on key elements that would require to be addressed in the building’s future refurbishment. Perhaps the greatest issue in our opinion was the lack of light into the space – entering the building for the first time gave a dark almost dingy impression which was clearly not ideal for prospective students. Having been left relatively refurbished for decades, a high proportion of the internal materials were in a dilapidated condition, while the internal layout was confused. Although PR and University specific information was displayed in various areas, there was a distinct lack of cohesion, all of which lead to a general impression of fragmented and generally poor space.  Clearly this would convey a modern contemporary learning environment, of which the University has many.

Our proposals focussed on a holistic, but real-world (and real budget) approach to refurbishing the existing building – centred upon 3 key areas: The external entrances, a completely new internal ground floor configuration and an enhanced gallery space. The key moves we proposed are all included within the image gallery above, along with a detailed explanation of the zones identified.
We worked with the client to produce a full development report for their funding purposes (we have a great deal of experience in doing this) and produced full CGI Flythrough videos to bolster their application.


At the time of writing the project is expected to move forward to design development in late 2020.




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