The Glasgow Institute of Architects has its origins in the Glasgow Architectural Society, the members of which first met in Alexander Thomson’s Scottish Exhibition Rooms in Bath Street on 14 January 1858 to establish a society for Glasgow and the West of Scotland. Eligible for ordinary membership were “trades and professions connected with building operations”, hence among the first Councillors of the fledgling Society were John Mossman (Sculptor), John Cairney (Glass Stainer), Robert McConnell (Ironfounder), and the more familiar names of architects Alexander Thomson, John Burnet, Charles Wilson and James Salmon.
For over ten years the Glasgow Architectural Society maintained an active presence in the city, before becoming a part of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow in 1869. General meetings, where members presented papers on a variety of topics, were held at regular intervals and recorded in the local press. Competitions were staged for the apprentice architects of the city, who in due course formed the Glasgow Architectural Association. An architectural library was built up for the use of members, and a series of plaster casts purchased which were ultimately loaned to the Glasgow School of Art and Haldane Academy.
On 18 September 1868, a new Institute promoted by the architect-only members of the original Society was incorporated. Their objectives remained much the same, being:
the advancement of the Art and Science of Architecture
the consideration and discussion of all subjects... connected... with the profession...
the elevation of the attainments…and protection of the interests of the Architects of Glasgow
the establishment of a uniform rate of charge by the members for professional business...
Links with the Royal Institute of British Architects were established as early as 1870, while a permanent association with the School of Art was also formed. In 1875, the death of Alexander Thomson saw the creation of a triennial Travelling Studentship to promote the study of Classical Architecture, which the Institute continues to award in his honour today. Winner of this scholarship in 1890 was Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose correspondence from his sketching trip abroad to the Honorary Secretary of the time was gifted by GIA to the Hunterian Museum.