In 1796 the Assembly Rooms were built on the north side of Ingram Street to the design of Robert (1728-92) and James Adam (1732-94).
In its original form without the later wings, it was an imposing classical building with a central bay featuring projecting paired Ionic columns framing a triumphal arch. Glasgow citizens paid the cost purchasing 274 shares at £20 each, a practice known as the Tontine principle. The Rooms provided a social gathering place for dances, music and other cultural pursuits. In 1847 it became a club, the Atheneum. When the building was demolished in about 1892 to make way for the new General Post Office, the central arch was preserved and moved first to Greendyke Street and then in 1922, to Glasgow Green where it was arranged as a freestanding triumphal arch.
Eighteenth century Glasgow was widely admired as 'one of the most beautiful small towns in Europe'. Broad, gridded streets had been constructed westwards from the old High Street with handsome houses, offices, shops and warehouses. By 1800 the city had a population of about 70,000 and was growing rapidly as navigation improvements on the Clyde brought new opportunities for its merchants. There was an increasing need for other amenities suited to an increasingly sophisticated town. The Adam brothers were responsible for a number of buildings and development proposals in Glasgow, including the Trades Hall (1791-94) and the Infirmary (1792-4). The former survives. The latter was demolished to make way for the present Royal Infirmary.