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Video: Reflections on the Diverse Work of Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Charles Rennie Mackintosh is considered to be one of the most influential artists and architects of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and earlier this year his work was displayed in an exhibition at the Royal Institute for British Architects (RIBA), following a five-year research project by the University of Glasgow. Among the exhibition of over 60 original drawings, watercolors and perspectives spanning the entirety of his career, highlights included models of his unbuilt work and original designs for the Glasgow School of Art. Watch the short documentary above on the five-year research process by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), who funded the University of Glasgow's work.

Spotlight: Charles Rennie Mackintosh

As one of the leading minds of art-nouveau in the UK, Charles Rennie Mackintosh (7 June 1868 – 10 December 1928) left a lasting impression in art and architecture. With a surprisingly brief architectural career, Mackintosh managed to stand out at the international level in art and design with his personal style coined known as the "Mackintosh Rose" motif. Born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1868, Mackintosh is known for his play between hard angles and soft curves, heavy material and sculpted light. Though he was most well-known for the Mackintosh Building at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh left a legacy of architecture-as-art that transcends the Glasgow school and exemplifies trans-disciplinary architecture.

Which Architect Could Restore The Glasgow School Of Art?

With the Charles Rennie Mackintosh retrospective opening today at the Royal Institute of British Architects in London Rowan Moore, writing for The Guardian, asks "which architect could restore Mackintosh's masterpiece [in Glasgow]?" The Glasgow School of Art, parts of which were devastated by fire in May of last year, is in the process of selecting a restoration architect from a shortlist of five. Yet for Moore "there are examples of clumsiness and stodginess in some of the past projects of those included that should be allowed nowhere near the School of Art."

Charles Rennie Mackintosh Exhibition To Open Next Month In London

The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) have announced that a new exhibition exploring the Scottish designer and artist's celebrated, but difficult, career is to open next month in London. Mackintosh Architecture will be the first exhibition solely devoted to his architecture, offering the opportunity to view over sixty original drawings, watercolours and perspectives spanning the entirety of his working life. Seen together, they "reveal the evolution of his style from his early apprenticeship to his later projects as an individual architect and designer." Drawings on display will also show his collaboration with the accomplished artist and designer Margaret Macdonald, his wife.

When Does A Restoration Become A Replica?

Following the unfortunate series of events that saw the Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) iconic Mackintosh Library devastated in a fire in May of last year, a leading Scottish architect has stated that he is "seriously against the idea of remaking the library" as a replica of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's original acclaimed design. Talking to the Scottish Herald, Professor Alan Dunlop has stated that "there is actually no way you can replace it as it was [as] there was 100 years of age and patina that you would have to replicate." Furthermore, he believes that it would not be something that "Mackintosh would do," citing the expansion of "his work in the years between each part of the Mackintosh Building being built [in 1899 and 1909]" as justification. It is his feeling that "the former library had essentially become a museum [and] not a viable working room for students and staff."

Cause Of Glasgow's Mackintosh School Of Art Fire Revealed

The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) have revealed the unfortunate series of events that led to the school's iconic Mackintosh library, alongside a large collection of student work and archives, devastated in a fire in May of this year. According to BDOnline, who have spoken with Tom Inns (Director of the GSA), "final-year students were setting up their degree show projects in the basement and holes in some pre-built foam panels were being filled with the spray foam."

The flammable gas used as a propellant in the canister was sucked into [a nearby] projector’s cooling fan, setting it alight. A foam panel directly behind the projector then quickly also caught light. "The flames quickly spread to timber panelling and through voids around the basement studio and then into the library two floors above and up through the rest of Mackintosh’s 1909 masterpiece." To add insult to injury, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) reported that "a fire suppression system was in the latter stages of installation at the time of the fire but was not operational."

Glasgow School of Art Begins Search for Restoration Architect

To repair the damage caused by May's devastating fire, the Glasgow School of Art is searching for a team to carry out the restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's celebrated building. Following the overwhelming public support for restoration instead of a contemporary reinterpretation, the selected team will be required to return the building to its original condition over a predicted construction period of five years. More on the restoration after the break.

Influential Scottish Architect Andy MacMillan Dies Aged 85

Professor Andy MacMillan, one of Scotland's most important post-war architects, died suddenly this weekend during this year’s Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) Andrew Doolan Awards visits. Macmillan was a professor at the Glasgow School of Art from 1973 to 1994, and a partner at Gillespie, Kidd & Coia in 1966. More on MacMillan's legacy after the break.

Video: Inside Steven Holl's Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art

Steven Holl Architects, in collaboration with Spirit of Space, have created two short films of the recently completed Seona Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art. The film series explores the complementary contrast of the new Reid Building and Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 building (which recently suffered a devastating fire), where "each work of architecture heightens the integral qualities of the other."

The first film takes the viewers on a "poetic climb" up and through the building's social circuit, which "purposefully encourages inter-disciplinary activity, with the hope to inspire positive energy for the future of art." The second film unpacks the design of the Reid Building in a conversation with design architects Steven Holl and Chris McVoy.

Photographic Archive Crowdsources Your Memories of The Mac

The interior of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art is, thankfully, being restored after being tragically damaged by fire last month. However, despite Scottish Fire and Rescue managing to save around 70% of the building's precious contents, many will likely struggle to get over the feeling that something is missing without the natural patina of 100 years of use.

Steven Holl Reflects on the Majesty of the Mackintosh

Following the devastating news that the Mackintosh School of Art's iconic library was recently destroyed, Steven Holl - designer of the adjacent Seona Reid Building that opened earlier this year - reflects on the "magic" of what has been lost in an article for the Architectural Record. The Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, for Holl, "embodies a refreshingly direct conviction", the sudden loss of which brought on a "deep sadness." Placing it within a canon of architectural masterpieces, Holl gives insight to his emotional connections with this Glaswegian masterpiece: "the Glasgow School of Art has an inner worth and a dignity beyond all measurable value." Read the article in full here.

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever

With no casualties, last week's fire at the Glasgow School of Art, which caused significant damage to parts of the building and gutted Charles Rennie Mackintosh's canonical library room, will be remembered as a tragic event that robbed us of one of the best examples of Art Nouveau of its time. The intention of the Glasgow School of Art is to restore the building in the hope that in generations to come, the fire will be all but forgotten, a strategy which has been largely well received by the profession. 

However, in the case of other fires things have not gone so smoothly: for millennia, fire has played a big role in determining the course of architectural history - by destroying precious artifacts, but often also by allowing something new to rise from the ashes. Read on after the break as we count down the top 10 fires that changed the course of architectural history.

10 Fires That Changed Architecture Forever The Hagia Sophia. Image © Flickr CC User Collin Key The Reichstag. Image © Flickr CC User Sebastian Niedlich Chicago. Image © Flickr CC User Brad Wilke

Glasgow School of Art Begins to Pick Up the Pieces

After the tragic fire that tore through Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art last week, thoughts have now turned to the future of the building and the process of restoration. It seems that many people in the profession are in favour of a faithful restoration: John McAslan, who has previously worked on restoring one of Mackintosh's buildings in Northampton, saying that "it is not the time and place to interpret Mackintosh", and former GSA student and ex-director of FAT Sam Jacob commenting that the building "hadn't been turned into a museum piece" and therefore "a faithful restoration is exactly the right thing to do."

Though there has been one dissenting voice from George Cairns, a professor at Melbourne's RMIT who completed his PhD thesis on the building in 1992 and believes that a faithful restoration is impossible. In any case, this is what the Glasgow School of Art has resolved to do, and they have received a number of offers of help. Read on after the break to find out what's being done, and what you can do to help, after the break.

Mackintosh's Iconic Library at Glasgow School of Art Destroyed in Fire

A statement from The Glasgow School of Art's Muriel Gray paints a somber picture of the aftermath of yesterday's fire: "Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated." 

The fire, which broke out on Friday, May 23 at around 12:30pm, caused an outpouring of grief on social media. Though many speculated as to the fate of the library, the archives, and the building's structural integrity, the report brings confirmation that the archives are "safe."

Gray added, "As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible."

Fire Breaks Out at Glasgow School of Art

UPDATE: The Glasgow School of Art Media Centre reports "With the incident under control indications are the firefighters' efforts have ensured more than 90 per cent of the structure is viable and protected up to 70 per cent of the contents - including many students' work."

A serious fire has broken out at the Glasgow School of Art, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 1909 masterpiece. The extent of the damage is unclear at the moment, but BBC News is reporting that the fire is believed to have started in the basement, and has spread to the upper floors, where it is breaking windows and smoke is billowing from the building. Images, reactions and updates from twitter after the break.

International Symposium for Social and Humanitarian Architecture

Next Month, the Mackintosh School of Architecture (The Glasgow School of Art) will host its first International Symposium for Social and Humanitarian Architecture, ‘Clean Conscience Dirty Hands’, in the new Reid Building by Steven Holl Architects. The symposium focuses on the limited resources intrinsic to the provision of social and humanitarian architecture and the impact of such scarcity on the ability of organisations to ‘harness’ the learning from each built project through documentation, discussion and dissemination. As such, it seeks to provide both a locus and a forum for like-minded organisations engaged in social and humanitarian building projects, in order to capture and disseminate good practice in both a UK-based and overseas context.

Update: Glasgow School of Art / Steven Holl

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects
Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Plans for the new Glasgow School of Art building, designed by Steven Holl Architects in association with JM Architects, received approval from the Glasgow City Council’s planning committee this week.  Site preparations are scheduled for this summer, and work on the new building will immediately follow with construction scheduled to take around two years. The five story building will reside directly opposite of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterful Glasgow School of Art building. “We are very pleased with the support from the Glasgow City Council Planning Committee. We believe that the new building will be an exciting addition to the Glasgow School of Art and will provide an inspirational environment for the students and the community,” Holl said. Holl’s design focuses on creating a relationship between the two buildings through attention to architectural elements, such as light, materiality and proportion. The prominence of Holl’s new building has created a lot of dialogue surrounding the design, which was the winning entry in a competition for the Glasgow School Art. Our previous coverage can be found here. Source: bdonline

Debate Over the Design for the Glasgow School of Art by Steven Holl

Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects
Courtesy of Steven Holl Architects

Debate continues on the design for the Glasgow School of Art by Steven Holl Architects in collaboration with Glasgow based JM Architects. Last month William J.R. Curtis shared his critical thoughts on the new extension, referencing the diagrams by Holl as ‘cartoonlike’, the surface choices of glass ‘monotonous’, and the external volumes as ‘clumsy’. As we all know architecture is subjective and debate should be welcomed, hopefully resulting in a smart discussion focused on providing the best design solutions for a project. A critique of an extension to a building with such importance as Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art, a design that masterfully manipulates light into spaces and skillfully the nature of different materials, is expected. However, this review almost seemed personal and a bit uninformed. Curtis, during his critical rant even asks “where was the client during these intervening months?” referring to the initial announcement and presentation of Holl’s winning design and then later released drawings. Continuing, “The unsatisfactory state of Holl’s proposal perhaps reveals what may happen when a star architect drops in from another planet and blinds a building committee with the “smoke and mirrors” of popularized phenomenology. Some good old Scottish common sense would have been in order to insist on greater rigor and a more appropriate response to the context.” Holl took time to respond to Curtis’ article stating, “We welcome criticism as long as it’s based on an accurate understanding of our design. Unfortunately William Curtis’ article is not knowledgeable about our design,” and Holl also shares specifics about both the design material choices for the new extension (his full response following the break).