Basic Biographical Details

Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1972
Bio Notes: ASSIST was a Glasgow practice founded in 1972 by Jim Johnson and his former student Raymond Young, with a focus on tenement rehabilitation. There were numerous architects working in the practice in the 1980s - including John Gilbert, Alan Dunford, Allan McNicol, Tom Sneddon and David Fleming.

ASSIST’s aim was to counter the prevailing tendency of either demolition or wholesale rehabilitation that involved moving entire communities out of their dwellings, leaving buildings vulnerable to vandalism while work was carried out. Instead, it favoured the housing association model, using the same legal framework but with the committee comprising the buildings’ residents rather than professionals. A major early project was a small mixed-ownership block in a ‘housing treatment area’ of Govan’s shipyards, which was scheduled to be knocked down within a decade to make way for a technical college for workers in the then thriving ship-building industry. The Council allowed the new practice to oversee a gradual upgrade, using local contractors, which was funded by a combination of ASSIST’s own money and grants from the Wates construction firm and the Scottish Development Department. Strathclyde University was supportive of the venture, and gave Johnson a secondment initially of one day a week, rising to four days a week by the mid-1970s as the practice’s work had grown. ASSIST functioned as an action research project for its students: they were encouraged to draw up scheme proposals for the various projects and to present them to the inhabitants, whose opinions would shape how the projects would progress.

When the Housing Act of 1974 was implemented, Lord Goodman visited the Govan scheme and was sufficiently impressed to ask Raymond Young to set up a Scottish office for his Housing Corporation. Although this was a blow to the practice, it was able to continue, with four or five other members of staff by then on board. Eventually this number would rise to some 25.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Strathclyde University, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness19721983 
Item 2 of 2Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1983 office overlooking the Clyde

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Raymond Young1972c. 1974Partner 
Item 2 of 5James ('Jim') Henry Johnson1972After 1981Partner 
Item 3 of 5Michael ThornleyBefore 1974Before 1978  
Item 4 of 5Lou Rosenberg (or Lou Rosenburg?)1976(?)   
Item 5 of 5John Gilbert1976(?)After 1980  

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 51971Taransay Street Treatment Area HousingGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 2 of 5c. 1974Tenement rehabilitationGovanhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 51976Housing rehabilitation, Ferguslie ParkPaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 4 of 5Mid 1970sTenement rehabilitation, Duke StreetDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 5Early 1980sFish Market  GlasgowScotlandRehabilitation and conversion to shopping centre with artists' studios and business premises


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 3Allen, Nic (ed.) Scottish Architects in Conservation  p10
Item 2 of 3Glendinning, M, MacInnes, R and MacKechnie, A1996A History of Scottish Architecture  p552
Item 3 of 3Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp40 Photograph of Taransay Street

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Jim JohnsonInterview of Jim Johnson by Jessica Taylor, 30 October 2008