WHERE IS IT? In the city centre, just north of Sauchiehall Street, directly behind the Savoy Centre, neighbouring the Thistle Hotel and Theatre Royal.
Formerly the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, the Royal Conservatoire was originally envisaged in the 1960s, with Sir John Leslie Martin submitting proposals in 1973.
However, it was not until 1987 that the building was completed by William Nimmo & Partners, including Sir Leslie Martin, his partner Ivor Richards, as well as James Robertson and John Carswell. The purpose built building houses two theatres, one with an automated flying system, an opera studio, a number of halls, and over sixty private practice rooms for music students.
The educational body that would become the Royal Conservatoire was originally known as the Glasgow Education Association. It was formed in 1845, primarily to compete with the veritable might of the University of Glasgow. However, in two years it had undergone two name changes, first to Glasgow Commercial College, and then to the Glasgow Athenaeum. It offered a broader range than the Royal Conservatoire; not only could students study music or drama, but also literature, language, science and mathematics. The famous English author Charles Dickens gave the Athenaeum its inaugural speech, proclaiming it as “an educational example and encouragement to the rest of Scotland.”
In 1888, the same year as the Glasgow International Exhibition of Science, Art and Industry, the science and art segments of the Athenaeum separated. The commercial teaching rebranded themselves as the Athenaeum Commercial College, and formed part of what is now Strathclyde University. The music department became the Glasgow Athenaeum School of Music, which was renamed the Scottish National Academy of Music in 1929, before taking the grander title of Royal Scottish Academy of Music in 1944.
A decade later the new academy formed an accompanying drama department, then known as the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art, before it was finally integrated into what became the RSAMD in 1968. It remained as such until 2011, when the Academy’s board decided that the old titled no longer covered all that the Conservatoire had to offer, such as film and television production, and ballet. In addition to the name change, a second campus was opened nearby in Cowcaddens to cope with the demand for places at the Conservatoire, and to accommodate many of their more modern courses.