object of the week

While the Pathfoot Building is closed, the Art Collection will each week focus on an object of interest. You can also search our entire collection online here.

Pathfoot Building
Architect: John Richards

Our first object of the week is the jewel in the crown of the Art Collection – the Pathfoot Building itself. Constructed in 1967, it was the first to be completed on the new campus and is now a listed building. 

This is how David Baxandallat the time the Director of the National Galleries of Scotland, began his review of the first building to be constructed on the University of Stirling campus:

[The Pathfoot Building] is probably the most beautiful, the most civilized, the most sensitive and intelligent piece of large scale modern architecture and planning that has been achieved in Scotland. The architect is John Richards, of the firm Robert Matthew, Johnson Marshall and partners and he’s done wonders.

He was speaking on a Radio 4 programme called Arts Review, transmitted on Thursday 8 January 1970, and continued:

It is well outside the town, on a sloping site facing south. As you approach, you see a series of very long low buildings stepped down the hillside on terraces. The emphasis is all in horizontals, and the relation of the buildings to landscape is one of great courtesy.
When you go inside it’s equally successful. It is very humane… Everything seems designed and scaled for the human individuals who use it whether to delight their eyes or to serve their needs. There are pictures or pieces of sculpture all over the place, many of them borrowed and frequently changed. Every now and then you look out on to small grassed and flagged courts between the buildings, rather like Japanese gardens. There is something to raise your spirits on every side.

Even though the Pathfoot Building has been altered and extended over the years, the spirit of the original design remains, and is appreciated by those who visit, study and work there. Alongside the offices and lecture theatres, Pathfoot is a public art space, displaying the University’s permanent art collection as well as a series of temporary exhibitions in its main concourse and corridors, the large Crush Hall and some of its seventeen courtyards.

‘Hanging Mobile’ by Ally Wallace (Artist in Residence in the Pathfoot Building, 2016-17)
The rectangular forms in this mobile are based on the proportions of Pathfoot’s concrete fascia panels, and their floating, constantly changing positions refer to the buildings lightweight, flexible design.

Click here to watch ‘Corridor of Dreams’, a 2013 film which celebrates works of art in the collection through the eyes of the artists who made them, and the people who pass them on a daily basis in the Pathfoot Building.

View of Pathfoot courtyard in the 1960s, with Figure (Archaean) by Barbara Hepworth (Bronze, 1959)

For much more on the architecture and origins of the Pathfoot Building, click here.

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