SAH News

Society of Architectural Historians to Host 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow

by SAH News | Jan 10, 2017

The Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) will hold its 70th Annual International Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, from June 7–11, 2017, marking the first time SAH has met outside North America since 1973. An estimated 600 historians, architects, preservationists, and museum professionals from around the world will convene to present new research on the history of the built environment at the University of Strathclyde’s Technology & Innovation Centre. The conference program will feature paper sessions, keynote talks, roundtables, social receptions, and public events including architecture tours in and around Glasgow and a seminar on heritage and sustainability.

Aileen Crawford, Head of Conventions at Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: “It’s a privilege to be welcoming some 600 international professionals from the Society of Architectural Historians to Glasgow this summer. It’s also a milestone meeting as it marks the first time the SAH has held its annual congress outside North America in more than 40 years and it comes during our national Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology—so it’s altogether fitting that it has chosen Glasgow for its first-ever visit to Scotland.”

“As well as enjoying an international reputation as a world-class conventions centre, Glasgow is globally renowned for the legacies of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson. I’m delighted that the conference will celebrate our city’s rich architectural heritage and that delegates will get a chance to experience some of the treasures of our built environment; from the Glasgow School of Art, City Chambers and Queen’s Cross Church to the Barony Hall, Kibble Palace and our state-of-the-art Technology and Innovation Centre.”

On Wednesday, June 7, the Glasgow School of Art will offer a day-long pre-conference seminar, “Mackintosh: Materials and Materiality,” in the School’s Reid Building. The seminar will focus on several major projects underway to restore and/or reconstruct Mackintosh buildings. It will present new research on the materials that Mackintosh used in his work and the conservation challenges they present today. The keynote speaker will be Pamela Robertson, Professor Emerita and Honorary Professional Research Fellow, University of Glasgow.

The conference will officially open on Wednesday evening, June 7, with a civic reception hosted by Glasgow’s Lord Provost at the City Chambers. Following the reception, Brian Park, founding director of Page\Park Architects, will deliver the introductory address, “The Architects Who Made Glasgow,” providing conference attendees with an overview of Glasgow’s rich architectural heritage and important architects.

The conference’s 36 paper sessions will take place on Thursday and Friday and address a wide range of built environment themes, geographic locations and time periods. Sessions covering Scottish topics include “Landscape and Garden Exchanges between Scotland and America” and “‘A Narrow Place’: Architecture and the Scottish Diaspora.”

On Thursday, June 8, SAH will present its publication awards and recognize its members’ achievements during the annual awards ceremony. Following the ceremony, Kathleen James-Chakraborty of University College Dublin will deliver the plenary talk “Architecture, its Histories, and their Audiences” at Strathclyde’s historic Barony Hall.

SAH will celebrate the close of the conference and important architectural anniversaries with “The Architects’ Birthday Party” on Saturday, June 10, at Glasgow Botanic Gardens’ Kibble Palace. The conference—fittingly enough—opens on the 149th birthday of famed Glaswegian architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, June 7. This year also marks the 200th anniversary of the birth of Glasgow’s other architectural giant, Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, as well as the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth, on June 8.

Thirty-three tours of architecture and landscapes in and around Glasgow are scheduled throughout the duration of the conference. Led by local historians, architects and other heritage experts, the tours will explore everything from Glasgow’s Victorian West End to Merchant City, from Scotland’s vernacular cottages to its famed castles, the works of Glasgow’s great architects Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, as well as the UNESCO World Heritage sites of New Lanark and Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns. All tours are open to the public.

On Saturday, June 10, SAH will present a public half-day seminar on heritage and sustainability in Glasgow at Mackintosh’s Queen’s Cross Church. The SAH Glasgow Seminar, “Making and Re-Making Glasgow: Heritage and Sustainability,” will begin with three case studies that discuss Glasgow as a city of innovative housing; a city of parks, gardens, and other open spaces; and a riverside city, taking its livelihood and identity from its use and imagining of the River Clyde. A screening of Chris Leslie’s short film (Re)Imagining Glasgow, commissioned for Scotland’s 2016 Festival of Architecture, will follow, and a panel discussion will close the program.

Technology-&-Innovation-Centre-(courtesy-Univ.-of-Strathclyde)Technology & Innovation Centre (courtesy of University of Strathclyde)

Glasgow-City-Chambers-(courtesy-People-Make-Glasgow)Glasgow City Chambers (courtesy of People Make Glasgow)

Glasgow School of Art (courtesy of VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins)

Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanic Gardens (courtesy of VisitScotland/Kenny Lam)

Queen’s Cross Church (courtesy of VisitScotland/Paul Tomkins)

Rory Archibald, Business Development Manager for VisitScotland Business Events said: "We're delighted to support the annual conference of The Society of Architectural Historians through the VisitScotland National Conference Bid Fund. It is fitting that the Society's 70th conference will be held in the birthplace of one of the most famous designers in history, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.”

“In 2017, Scotland celebrates the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology. Our history and heritage is what defines the country for many visitors—it’s an integral and iconic part of our national brand as well as a major contributor to our economy—and we welcome the Society of Architectural Historians during this significant year. Business conferences such as this not only boost the local and national economy, but also contribute to the strong reputation Scotland has for delivering successful events."

For program details and to register, please visit Early registration is open now through March 14, 2017. Registration for tours and the SAH Glasgow Seminar will open to the public on March 15, 2017.


SAH thanks the following sponsors for their generous support of its 70th Annual International Conference: The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation (Lead Sponsor), Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, VisitScotland National Bid Fund and the European Regional Development Fund, Glasgow City Council, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Gill Family Foundation, Historic Environment Scotland, and Abby Smith Rumsey.


Founded in 1940, the Society of Architectural Historians is a nonprofit membership organization that promotes the study, interpretation and conservation of architecture, design, landscapes and urbanism worldwide. SAH serves a network of local, national and international institutions and individuals who, by profession or interest, focus on the built environment and its role in shaping contemporary life. SAH promotes meaningful public engagement with the history of the built environment through advocacy efforts, print and online publications, and local, national and international programs. Learn more at


  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017. It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2016 Year of Architecture, the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017

SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610