The work on George Square is expected to include removing all the statues and monuments with the exception of the Cenotaph, getting rid of the existing raised beds and lighting and digging up the red surface.
City council bosses say the £15million improvement scheme is needed as the square looks tired and rundown and is not fit for the 21st century.
They hope the upgrade of the area will result in it being Scotland's top city centre space.
Councillors have agreed to launch a competition looking for high quality designs for the historic area.
City council leader, Gordon Matheson, said: "It is time for George Square to regain its status as not only Glasgow's premier urban space, but Scotland's premier urban space.
"There are competing demands which are placed on the square.
"This year alone, George Square has hosted the Queen on her Diamond Jubilee tour as well as the Olympic torch and will be the focal point for the homecoming of Scotland's Olympians and Paralympians.
"People also use it as a place to sit around watching life pass by. Currently, it is not equipped to perform either of those roles particularly well and we need to be more ambitious than that.
"As leader of the council, I want to give the people of Glasgow the square they deserve. To make that happen, we have now implemented an ambitious programme of work."
Residents focus groups and stakeholders have been consulted to find out their vision for George Square.
In December, the second phase of the consultation will involve asking the public and other stakeholders about the designs which have been shortlisted.
A council spokesman said: "Given the scale of the proposed transformation, statues and monuments, except the Cenotaph, will be moved – at least on a temporary basis – so the design and construction can be carried out.
"This will also allow a comprehensive conservation of the statues to be implemented in partnership with Historic Scotland."
In recent months, there have been calls for the statues to be moved to permanent new homes in the city's parks.
As well as removing the statues and flowerbeds and resurfacing the square, there will also be new lighting and possibly a water feature.
Richard Brown, the city council's executive director of development and regeneration, said: "In order to deliver a substantially improved George Square in advance of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, an ambitious and expeditious programme must be implemented."
Phase two of the work, which will start after the Games, is expected to concentrate on expanding the area of the square by looking at pedestrian and traffic flow and delivering the new features.
The council will fund the £5m first phase of the work cash for the £10m second phase coming from the funding package for public realm work to be carried out as a result of the Buchanan Galleries expansion.