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Salvage efforts continue at the Glasgow School of Art

24 May 2014

Firefighters tackling the blaze at Glasgow School of Art’s Charles Rennie Mackintosh building believe they have been able to save up to 70% of its contents, while 90% of the historic building’s structure remains viable. The unique library and its contents, however, has been lost.

Mackintosh Building Facade.

Mackintosh Building Facade. Courtesy of Glasgow School of Art

A fierce blaze broke out in the basement yesterday at around 12.30pm, apparently after a projector caught fire. It quickly engulfed the building: images from later in the afternoon show smoke and flames billowing from broken windows in the attic. Fire crews were able to bring the fire mostly under control by evening, and the salvage operation continues today.

The evident severity of the blaze led to widespread concern that the building and its contents would be entirely lost. In addition to work by hundreds of current students, the Mackintosh building is home to a library and archive, and was designed in its entirety by the distinguished artist and architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Mackintosh was 28 years old when he won the commission to design the Renfrew Street building. Construction began in 1897, and it was opened in 1909. It is highly regarded as an influential example of Art Nouveau architecture and is one of Scotland’s most celebrated buildings. Everything, from the façade to the fixtures and fittings, was designed by Mackintosh, making the building a highly significant work of art in its own right.