The Glasgow School of Art (the GSA) was founded in 1845 to support the manufacturing industries of Glasgow. Ever since, it has evolved and grown to serve new industries and audiences through the delivery of world leading teaching and research in the visual creative disciplines. It is ambitious and international in outlook, but its roots and heritage remain firmly embedded in the City of Glasgow.
Our ambition for the future use of the Mackintosh Building places it very firmly at the centre of our ambition for the GSA, so through our people, our education and our research, we will empower change and create impact that is both transformative and collaborative.
The Birth of Modernism
Charles Rennie Mackintosh was aged 29 and working as a junior draughtsman at the practice of Honeyman and Keppie when it was awarded the project to design a new building for the rapidly expanding art school in 1897.
Recognised as one of Europe’s leading art academies, The Glasgow School of Art was central to Glasgow’s emergence as a centre for the creative arts. The first phase of construction between 1897 and 1899 saw the completion of the central and east wing, including the Mackintosh Museum and Boardroom. By the time of the second phase of construction for the west wing of the Building between 1907 and 1909, Mackintosh was a partner in the firm. The delay enabled him to amend the design to include new second-floor studios, and workshops in the sub-basement, as well as introducing a more 20th-century look and feel influenced by the emergence of Modernism.
Build and Restoration
In 2014 the Building was damaged by fire while the annual degree show installation was taking place. While undergoing a major restoration and refurbishment project the Building then was to suffer a second, more significant fire in June 2018.
The impact of the 2018 fire on the Mackintosh Building significantly impacted the Garnethill community, as well as depriving the GSA of a unique and much-loved teaching and learning resource. The Mackintosh Building was at the heart of the GSA campus, and served as a highly visible convening place not only for the GSA but for the wider community and many thousands of visitors to the city.
Since 2018 significant work has been undertaken to stabilise and clear the Building, with some 5500 tonnes of debris removed from the building by 2022 in phase 1 of the project. In 2023 Phase 2 works were completed with the dismantling of the Library Tower. Work has now commenced that will support the GSA’s ambition for the faithful reinstatement of the Building including the wrapping of the Building.
A New Chapter
We fundamentally believe that the Mackintosh Building must be part of the educational, intellectual, and cultural experience of everyone who studies and works at The Glasgow School of Art. We recognise that we must respect and safeguard its historical significance. It must be permeable, useful, and contribute to the success of the GSA. It cannot become a museum, a historical curiosity – its value is in its ability to be a working art school, something it did successfully for over 100 years.
The GSA believes that the Mackintosh Project has the potential to be a catalyst for the social and economic regeneration of Garnethill and the surrounding commercial areas – in particular Sauchiehall Street. The project should not only be a sensitive response to the Mackintosh Building, but an exemplar of sustainability and a demonstrator project for world-leading place-based, co-designed, community regeneration.
Professor Penny Macbeth
Director, The Glasgow School of Art 2022
This Mackintosh Building website has been developed as part of the GSA’s wider redevelopment of its central website, providing an interim home for information and images and details of our governance structure for the rebuilding, links to our community engagement within Garnethill and some archive papers and resources relating to the 2014 and 2018 fires.