55°56′35″N 3°11′12″W / 55.94318°N 3.18665°W / 55.94318; -3.18665

40 George Square
View from George Square of the tower
View from George Square
Former namesDavid Hume Tower, DHT
General information
TypeUniversity tower block
Architectural styleScottish Modernism
LocationEdinburgh, Scotland
Construction started1960
OwnerThe University of Edinburgh
Height43 m (141 ft)
Technical details
Structural systemReinforced concrete with brick infill
Floor count14
Design and construction
Architect(s)Robert Matthew
Architecture firmRobert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)
Structural engineerBlyth & Blyth
Renovating team
Renovating firmBalfour Beatty
Services engineerHarley Haddow LLP

40 George Square is a tower block in Edinburgh, Scotland forming part of the University of Edinburgh. Until September 2020 the tower was named David Hume Tower (often abbreviated as DHT).[1] The building contains lecture theatres, teaching spaces, offices, a café and a shop.


The tower was originally named after the Scottish Enlightenment philosopher David Hume, who was an alumnus of the university. In September 2020, in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, the university announced that they would be renaming the tower to 40 George Square. The university stated that Hume's "comments on matters of race, though not uncommon at the time, rightly cause distress today."[2][1][3]


Main article: George Square, Edinburgh § Redevelopment

The tower was built as part of a significant 1960s redevelopment of George Square by the university, which saw the demolition of numerous Georgian terraced houses and tenements to make way for new university buildings. The redevelopments were opposed by community groups and organisations, such as the Cockburn Association and the Scottish Georgian Society. Other buildings constructed included the university's Main Library and Appleton Tower.

Design and construction

The building was designed for the university's Arts Faculty by the Scottish modernist architect Robert Matthew of Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM), alongside the structural engineering firm Blyth & Blyth.[4]

The tower is 43 metres (141 ft), and 14 storeys high. To the rear of the tower there is a row of lecture theatres, which are joined to the tower via a lower ground floor. The lower ground floor, known as the Hub, includes a café and shop surrounding a central atrium.[5]

The structure of the tower is made from reinforced concrete with brick infill, and is clad with slabs of polished black slate and York sandstone. The block of lecture theatres is similarly made of reinforced concrete and clad in York sandstone.[4]

The construction took place from 1960 until 1963, and was carried out by the contractor firm Crudens.[4]

In 2006 Historic Scotland designated the building as category A listed, the highest category, stating the building is "one of the key monuments of Scottish Modernism", the architecture is of a "very high standard of design and execution" and the materials to be of "exceptional quality"[4]


In 2014, the lower ground floor was renovated to create the DHT Hub, including teaching space, a café and a EUSA shop. The renovations cost £15 million and won the RICS Conservation Award, Scottish Design Awards commendation, and a GIA Awards commendation.[6]


  1. ^ a b "Edinburgh University renames David Hume Tower over 'racist' views". BBC News. 13 September 2020. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  2. ^ "Equality, Diversity and Inclusion - an update". The University of Edinburgh. 15 September 2020. Archived from the original on 20 September 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  3. ^ Immerwahr, John (1992). "Hume's Revised Racism". Journal of the History of Ideas. 53 (3): 481–486. doi:10.2307/2709889. ISSN 0022-5037. JSTOR 2709889. In 1753 Hume revised his essay "Of National Characters" by adding the following footnote: 'I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all other species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures amongst them, no arts, no science...'
  4. ^ a b c d "University of Edinburgh, David Hume Tower and Lecture Block, Including Stepped Podium, 40 George Square, Edinburgh (LB50189)". Historic Environment Scotland. Archived from the original on 7 February 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  5. ^ "DHT Hub". Edinburgh First. The University of Edinburgh. Archived from the original on 26 February 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2020.
  6. ^ "University of Edinburgh, 50 George Square". Page\Park. Archived from the original on 20 October 2020. Retrieved 21 September 2020.