A celebrated building in the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland on the brink of complete restoration has once again been damaged by a fire late Friday, June 15th. At 11:20 PM in downtown Glasgow, a fire started – damaging the recently renovated Mackintosh library – and spread to several nearby buildings, including a campus nightclub and music venue. The renovated Mackintosh library had been due to reopen in 2019 in an estimated 35-million-pound (the equivalent of 46 million US dollars) project in the making since it caught fire previously in May of 2014 due to a faulty projector. The library was thought to be one of the world’s finest examples of Art Nouveau.
According to a recent BBC news article and interview with deputy assistant chief fire officer Peter Heath, not only is there damage to every part of the Mackintosh building, it is likely that all work related to the restoration has been destroyed. The cause of the fire is still being investigated. The day after the fire, Saturday, June 16th, efforts from 50 local firefighters and those from neighboring counties were still in full swing working to contain the fire – at one point having more than 120 firefighters and 20 fire engines to tame the most intense portions of the blaze – and while Heath described the fire as “largely contained”, the damage to the building was “exceptionally significant.” No injuries or fatalities have been reported.
As of Tuesday, June 19th, BBC News reported School of Art Professor Tom Inns verified that the building’s shell was still intact and the plans to rebuild have started to form. “We are going to have to stabilise the building, then we are going to have to think very, very carefully about what the strategy might be moving forward.”
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon took to Twitter the evening of the fire to praise of the firefighters efforts and to mourn the Art School damage. “My first thoughts tonight are for the safety of people – but my heart also breaks for Glasgow’s beloved School of Art.”
Several public figures from Glasgow and the art community have commented on Twitter with their shock at the damage. Stuart Robertson, the director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, told BBC News the second fire was “unbelievable. It is like deja vu from four years ago.” This recent fire comes as a devastating blow to the society as the previous weekend was a celebration of Mackintosh’s 150th birthday. Labour party politician and Glasgow North East MP Paul Sweeney described the building as “the most architecturally important building in Glasgow … The best we can probably hope for is structural facade retention and a complete rebuild of the interior. Devastating.” Many local government figures have voiced their support and pledged to help them.
The Mackintosh building was completed in 1909 based on designs by Mackintosh and was rated an “A-list” building from Historic Scotland.
Pictures and interviews courtesy of BBC News.