The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Restoration Committee has appointed local office PagePark Architects to restore and rebuild the fire-damaged building, which houses the school’s Fine Art Department and an exhibition space used to host the annual degree show.
Located on Renfrew Street in the centre of the city, the sandstone-clad Mackintosh Building – commonly known as the Mac – was designed by Scottish architect and GSA alumni Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the 1890s and is considered his seminal work.
PagePark fought off competition from four other shortlisted practices including London studios John McAslan + Partners and Avanti Architects to be awarded the commission to lead design work on the restoration project, which will reportedly cost £35 million.
The fire broke out on 23 May 2014 towards the end of the summer term when students were preparing for the school’s annual degree show.
The blaze is believed to have started in the basement before spreading up the west side of the building to the roof, causing irreparable damage to the library’s distinctive wood-panelled walls as well as a glazed passageway called the “hen run”.
“We have, over many years, had the privilege to work on and in the context of the Mackintosh legacy,” said David Page of PagePark Architects, “the highlight of which will now be the opportunity to bring The Glasgow School of Art into splendid re-use for its students and staff, the people of Glasgow and the huge audience beyond the city.”
The firm has carried out restoration work on a number of Mackintosh’s commercial and domestic buildings, including the refurbishment of the National Trust property Hill House and the conversion the former Glasgow Herald offices into The Lighthouse architecture and design centre.
“The team assembled by PagePark Architects impressed us not only with their deep knowledge of the building, but of the wider work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh,” said GSA director Tom Inns. “They displayed a superb methodology to the task of restoration – in particular their room by room analysis of the structure, materiality, craftsmanship and intent of Mackintosh in designing, specifying and overseeing the construction of his masterwork.”
“They also bring an understanding of the building’s particular importance to Glasgow – its people and history – as well as of its status as an international design icon,” he added.
A statement released by The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service shortly after the fire said that over 90 per cent of the structure and 70 per cent of its contents had been preserved, with damage contained to the library and studio spaces in the building’s western wing.
The PagePark design team will work with the school to develop detailed plans for the restoration of this part of the building, while an external expert advisory panel will be established to provide guidance on the project.
Work is expected to begin in early 2016, with a view to reopening the majority of the spaces in time for the 2017-8 academic year.
Images of the fire-damaged school by Mcateer Photograph.
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