WHERE IS IT? Halfway along Renfrew Street, one up the hill from Sauchiehall Street, a short walk from the GFT
GLASGOW SCHOOL OF ART
The current home of the Glasgow School of Art, whose main building on Renfrew Street was designed by architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh, is in fact the third location of the school.
Originally founded on Ingram Street in 1845 under the title of Glasgow Government School of Design, it moved 25 years later to the then recently built McLennan Galleries. Just over a quarter of a century later, work began on the Renfrew Street building. Designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who was handpicked by the school’s new director Francis Newbery, the first half was finished in 1899, with the second half finished over a decade later.
The school is separated into three paths of study - Architecture, Design and Fine Arts - and has provided an education and launch platform for some of the world’s brightest artists and creative souls, including three Turner Prize winners and a third of all nominees in the award’s illustrious history. Notable graduates including actor and director Peter Capaldi, painter Stephen Conroy, Travis members Fran Healy and Dougie Payne, and playwright and poet Liz Lochhead.
The story of the school does not end there. In 2009 a competition was held to find an architecture firm to create a plan for the entire school campus, which would include the design of a brand new building. The competition was won by New York firm Steven Holt Architects, in partnership with Glasgow based JM Architects. They started work in 2012 and by 2014 the Seona Reid Building was complete. The bright modern building sits opposite Mackintosh's main building. It is named after Dame Seona Reid, who was director of the arts school from 2009 to 2013.
While 2014 should have been a year of celebration for the school, the achievement of the new building was overshadowed by a fire that engulfed Mackintosh's building, gutting it from the basement all the way to the top.
After the fire, it was announced that Mackintosh's original design would be carefully restored, even using the same types of wood that had been used originally. Work on this painstaking process began in 2016. However, a second fire in 2018 erased all of this hard work. This one was more severe, consuming nearby buildings including the 02 ABC. While the school board have stated their intention to rebuild the building again, as of 2020 there are no clear plans for doing so.