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ABC music venue set to be demolished after art school blaze

The building was ravaged after flames gripped the nearby Mackintosh building.

Plans have been submitted to demolish the O2 ABC music venue after the building was ravaged by fire in the Glasgow School of Art blaze.

The building, on Sauchiehall Street, went up in flames on June 15 last year.

Fire: The Glasgow School of Art went up in flames.
Fire: The Glasgow School of Art went up in flames. SNS Group

The art school's adjacent Mackintosh Building was also destroyed.

An application has now been submitted to Glasgow City Council to demolish the "extensively fire damaged building in entirety".

Jungle: The band performing at the O2 ABC in Glasgow.
Jungle: The band performing at the O2 ABC in Glasgow. Ryan Johnston

The ABC, which hosted popular club night Jellybaby, has been home to an ice rink, circus, and cinema since its construction in 1875.

In the early 2000s, David McBride from Regular Music spotted a gap in Glasgow's entertainment market.

Superstar: Former Britain's Got Talent singer Calum Scott.
Superstar: Former Britain's Got Talent singer Calum Scott. Ryan Johnston

In 2009, the Academy Music Group took a majority stake in the venue and re-branded it the O2 ABC.

Sam Smith, Paramore, Adele, Ed Sheeran, Frightened Rabbit, Paolo Nutini, Dua Lipa and Kendrick Lamar are just some of the acts who have performed at the O2 ABC in recent years.

Volbeat: The Danish rock band in Glasgow.
Volbeat: The Danish rock band in Glasgow. Ryan Johnston

GLM director David Gibbon, a chartered building surveyor accredited in historic building conservation, told STV News that Historic Environment Scotland and Glasgow City Council will first look at the significance of the building before deciding whether it can be demolished.

He said: "It's such a multilayered building according to the list description that there are lots and lots of different aspects to the significance of it.

"Probably, what you can't say is that the fabric of the building is all that significant because it was largely rebuilt and then much more recently in the 21st century completely done over on the inside.

"So there's not a great deal that exists that predates 1929."

Music to the ears: The LaFontaines and JoJo.
Music to the ears: The LaFontaines and JoJo. Ryan Johnston

Mr Gibbon stated that the officers will consider who built the building, how important it is architecturally, and whether a better structure will rise from the ashes.

He added that other factors will be taken into consideration, including its past as a dancehall and circus.

He said: "That sort of thing will weigh somewhat in the decision-making process."

Mr Gibbon stated that there will most likely be a presumption in favour of finding an economic use for the site.

He said: "It is a C-listed building, not an A-listed building or even a B-listed building.

"So it's of local significance, not everybody in the world has heard of this building.

"And it isn't a great landmark, and in fact it was only listed in the 21st century so it doesn't go back very far.

"If that which is significant about the building has largely been lost in the course of the fire, then really there isn't a great deal of point in trying to create a replica of that.

"If, however, a lot remains of particular value and interest as far as the public is concerned, then that will be weighed in the balance.

"It's quite a striking building in the streetscape. It might be that the planners would say the interior is of no great significance but the facade continues to be an important feature of the streetscape."

Historic moments at O2 ABC Glasgow

  • 1875: The venue is built and opens as a diorama - a theatrical experience invented by the French in the early 1800s.
  • 1929: The venue is taken over by the Associated British Cinemas Chain (ABC) and crowned the Regal.
  • 2005: The ABC relaunches as a music venue following a spectacular refurbishment.
  • 2014: O2 ABC Glasgow was the chosen venue for the official after-party of the MTV EMAs, with a surprise DJ set from Rudimental.

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