Tom Inns, director of the Glasgow School of Art, has announced that the school’s fabled Charles Rennie Mackintosh building will be rebuilt following the massive fire that engulfed the school last month. In comments made to The Guardian—his first interview since the June 15 inferno—Inns said, “We’re going to rebuild the Mackintosh building. There’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.” The fire that tore through the 110-year-old building is still under investigation as crews begin the difficult work of delicately dismantling sections of the southeast and west facades in an effort to prevent their collapse. In the interview with The Guardian, Inns added a bit of hope to the situation by revealing that roughly half of the fixtures and fittings that had been salvaged and restored after the 2014 blaze that gutted the library were in storage during the most recent fire. The library was partially restored at the time of this year’s blaze, with the £35 million restoration of the complex by Page/Park Architects pushing toward its projected 2019 completion. All that work has gone up in smoke, however, and Kier Construction, the contractor in charge of the initial restoration, has come under fire for perceived lapses in fire safety on the site, including news that the building had not been outfitted with a new sprinkler system at the time of the blaze. Inns and the contractor have since clarified that both parties had agreed to the scope and adequacy of the project’s fire safety strategy, however. Kier has since severed its relationship with the school as the investigation into the fire continues. The school is expecting to use insurance money to finance the rebuilding process, which currently has no timeline for completion. The question of how or whether to rebuild The Mack, as the library building is known, was set off before the latest blaze was even put out. Architectural historian Alan Dunlop has advocated against “replication” of the school while art historians, the conservation group Historic Environment Scotland, and now Inns himself have pushed for restoration. Sally Stewart, head of architecture at Glasgow School of Art cautioned against adaptive reuse of the building due to the structure’s finely-tuned inner workings. She told The Guardian, “The beauty of the Mack was that in its design it really considered the internal environment needed for the disciplines that were housed in it. In terms of the light within the studios, how the studios were scaled, to tinker with any of that is really tricky.”
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According to recent reports, sections of the Glasgow School of Art will be disassembled over the coming days. Officials studying the June 15th blaze have observed a larger degree of settling and movement among the remaining sections of the building than originally anticipated, enough to prompt the investigative team to begin dismantling the south facade of the main library building, The Guardian reports. According to The Guardian, a local official said, “The building has moved much, much more than we expected. The south facade is a particular risk and we’re now saying it is likely rather than possibly going to collapse.” The deconstruction efforts will be aimed at preventing the structure from causing more collateral damage and to avert any injuries or loss of life that could occur if any of the building’s bricks were to come loose and tumble down to earth. The areas around the school have been off-limits to residents, businesses, and the public since the blaze, which consumed almost the entirety of the library building, including sections that were still under renovation following a 2014 blaze that also caused extensive damage. Nearly all of the elements replaced via the £37 million restoration have been lost in the most recent fire. https://twitter.com/peterheath8/status/1009202184062472210?s=21 Investigators have been comparing on-site measurements and documentation with a highly-detailed 3-D model that was created of the building for the most recent restoration in their efforts to ascertain the extent of the damage. The world-famous Glasgow School of Art building was originally completed in 1909 by Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh. The local official added, “[The south facade] will be taken down urgently to probably at least the first floor level, but safely. And by safely we mean it will take a couple of days to come up with a methodology to do that.” As elements of the building are disassembled and the investigation into the fire continues, debate within the architectural community has shifted toward whether—or how—to restore or replace the historic structure. Architectural historian Alan Dunlop has advocated against “replication” of the school while art historians and the conservation group Historic Environment Scotland (HES) have expressed cautious optimism regarding the possibility that the structure can be saved and restored. For now, the school is working hard to stabilize and salvage what can be saved from the structure. A local spokesperson told The Guardian in a separate report, “There is a consensus emerging that the intention of the building control people, HES people, and the art school is to save the building. Right now, people are operating on the understanding it will be saveable.”
Page/Park Architects selected to rebuild Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s legendary fire-destroyed art nouveau Glasgow library
Glasgow, Scotland–based architecture practice Page/Park wowed judges in an international competition for the restoration of the Glasgow School of Art, whose legendary art nouveau library was consumed by a fire in May last year. While all 259 rooms were affected by the fire, with the bulk of the damage attributed to smoke, the flames demolished Scottish architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s library beyond recognition. Page/Park’s Piece by Piece submission comprised a room-by-room dissection of the building, a culmination of closely studying photographs and literature “from various periods and from every possible angle” to visually reassemble the library in its heyday. From there, 21st-century amenities can be integrated such as replacements for the vintage lighting and cabling—first installed when the building was completed in 1909. “The first job is to understand how it was originally constructed and secondly to understand the how it was changed over the last century, and on the basis of that if we know how it’s made we can make the decision how it’s going to be renewed if necessary or repaired for the most part,” David Page, head of architecture at Page/Parks, told The Guardian. Having worked on a number of Mackintosh-conceived projects, including converting the former Glasgow Herald offices into the Lighthouse Centre for Design and Architecture, the firm showed superlative insight into the Scottish architect’s oeuvre. In crafting its proposal, Page/Parks zeroed in on a single bay and post of the balcony—two elements repeated throughout the building—to recreate the library within the remains of its still-standing masonry shell. “Our knowledge has been supplemented by what was revealed by the fire—elements of the construction that were not possible to examine in full when the Library was intact,” the firm writes in Piece by Piece. Profiled rails, balcony pendants and scalloped balusters painted red, white, blue and green inform the interior’s art nouveau signature, but the proposal does not elaborate on whether these archaic fixtures will stay or go. Work is slated to commence in April next year, with the renovation being expected to conclude in 2018.