Restoration of the Glasgow School of Art building which suffered a massive fire last Spring has escalated to £35 million. The building designed Charles Rennie Mackintosh is one of Scotland’s leading tourist attractions and a building of world importance.
The building project includes reconstructing the landmark’s famous library, destroyed in the blaze last May. A spokeswoman for the GSA said: “The principal contractor will be appointed in early June 2016 with work starting on site almost immediately following appointment.” Elizabeth Davidson, senior project manager for the restoration, said: “Today marks another important step in bringing the Mackintosh Building back into use. The appointment of the principal contractor will be the next critical stage in the restoration process.” A team led by Page & Park Architects has now been approved for the restoration of the School of Art’s Mackintosh Building.
Forensic archaeologists sifted through the rubble in the iconic building, including the remains of its historic library, last November. The 12-week operation helped document and remove the remains which according to the Scotsman uncovered parts of a studio clock and its mechanism, a silver salver, most of the metal from the lamps in the library’s iconic central light fitting and a number of rare books.
Born in Glasgow on 7 June 1868, Mackintosh was apprenticed to a local architect John Hutchison, but in 1889 he transferred to the larger, more established city practice of Honeyman and Keppie. In 1896 Mackintosh gained his most substantial commission, to design a new building for the Glasgow School of Art. This was to be his masterwork. Significantly, the building was constructed in two distinct phases, 1897-99 and 1907-09, due to a lack of money. Stylistically, the substantial delay in completion offered Mackintosh the opportunity to amend and fully integrate his original design (of 1896) which owed much to Scotland’s earlier baronial tradition with a second half to the building that looked very much to the 20th century through its use of materials and technology. Most dramatic of all the interiors was the new Library (completed in 1909), which was a complex space of timber posts and beams.
It is thought that ninety oil and watercolour paintings, including two by Mackintosh himself, and around 8000 books and journals were all lost in the fire. Renovation is expected to be completed by 2018.