Gigs in Glasgow: Plans to transform Rotunda into world-class entertainment venue

Glasgow is set to welcome a new world-class entertainment hub and events venue as Forrest Hotels unveil plans to transform the North Rotunda.

The owners of the award-winning Radisson RED hotel bought the building in June 2023 and plan to invest £15million to transform the structure over three levels into ‘The Roundhouse’ venue on the ground floor and ‘The Rotunda’, on the upper floors, while carefully restoring and enhancing the historic features of the original structure.

Forrest has taken inspiration from Nashville’s world-famous live music circuit to design a stunning new ground floor space, created with live performance in mind – with two upper floors created for hosting weddings, conferences and events.

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The versatile new venue with state-of-the-art bespoke sound and lighting systems will feature a new extension and external stairwell, allowing the building to meet modern building regulations and standards.

The stunning design preserves and showcases the original features, like the cast iron and glass cupola and original round open-plan floors.

Keith Vallance from Forrest Hotels will oversee the development. He said: “Sadly the old building is in a sorry state, but we are prepared to invest heavily in order to restore this architectural gem, bringing a new generation through its doors. Our proposals will create 60 much needed new jobs for the city.

“The North Rotunda is a beautiful old building with some lovely features, either covered up completely or worse, rotting away.

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“We want to restore it and we have worked hard to come up with a design which enhances and showcases those features.

“We will retain the open plan round floors, allowing the unique design of the original building to take centre stage. We have carefully created a sympathetic external stairwell and extension to bring us into line with modern building regulations.

“We see the Rotunda as an important part of Glasgow’s heritage which we are keen to preserve and enhance, while creating a brand new venue to showcase the best of music and live events from Glasgow and beyond.

“We have taken inspiration from some of the world’s best music spaces, especially the vibrant Nashville scene.”

The new incarnation will be made up of two distinct venues.

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Keith said: “Glasgow’s newest live music and entertainment venue will be created on the ground floor of the building. A new ground floor extension will accommodate a stunning bar set against the backdrop of the SEC, Hydro, Armadillo and Finnieston Crane.

“The Roundhouse will have a separate entrance and will also have an external ‘beer garden’ catering for over 140 people. The internal layout of the venue will be flexible and capable of hosting different events of 250-500 people.”

Keith said: “The first floor will be a lounge and pre-event space with an outside terrace, retaining the existing floor to ceiling windows and offering amazing views.

“The second floor is the heart of the venue, a large open space showcasing the full 360-degree windows and original cast iron cupola, with an almost eight-metre high roof at the centre.

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“Capacity can be up to 500 for larger events or around 200 to 300 for seated, table-service events like conferences and weddings. This will be a world class wedding venue. Just think of the views and photos from the terrace.

“We are really excited to be restoring and relaunching an iconic location for the people of Glasgow, which will create many new jobs as well as complementing and supporting the businesses around the SEC Campus.”

There has already been strong support for the plans from both the SEC Campus – the North Rotunda building is an iconic part of the area’s famous skyline – and from Glasgow Chamber of Commerce.

Billy McFadyen, Director of Finance and Development, SEC, said: “We very much welcome the Forrest Group proposals to enhance the North Rotunda and provide a much needed destination venue to the wider SEC Campus. The high quality design creating flexible function and entertainment space will provide excellent facilities that will augment our world class campus.” Glasgow Chamber of Commerce chief executive Stuart Patrick, said: “The North Rotunda is a prominent  building that lends itself to being a standout destination in the city and we are pleased to see these carefully considered proposals come forward. 

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“The SEC Campus is just a stone’s throw away and as we know, this wider area has enormous potential for further regeneration and economic activity. 

“This, coupled with the creation of much-needed new jobs, is why we must welcome investments that will further enhance our reputation as a leading city for events, entertainment and culture.” The Roundhouse and Rotunda is intended to launch early in 2026 subject to planning consents and statutory approvals.

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