Mackintosh restoration in tatters after second devastating blaze

Image: Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

A second devastating fire in four years has ravaged the iconic Mackintosh building at the Glasgow School of Art.

Kier Construction won the £25 million contract to manage the restoration of the building, following the first blaze in 2014. The famous Mackintosh Library was to be restored to its original 1910 design using information from items retrieved and information gathered in an archaeological survey, along with consultation of Mackintosh’s original designs, early photography, letters and other documents.

The project to restore the building was helping to preserve traditional skills in the Scottish construction industry, as well as creating training and apprenticeship opportunities.

A Kier spokesperson said, “An agreed fire safety strategy was implemented for the build phase of the Mackintosh restoration project, which combined measures for the protection of all those entering the site to work and to alert the authorities in the event of an outbreak of fire. These included a smoke and heat detection system and regular evacuation tests as well as 24 hour, 7 days a week security and fire warden patrols by a team of three guards, originally appointed by the client after the 2014 fire and subsequently by Kier. We continue to work with and support Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and our client as they determine the next steps for the Mackintosh building and site. We have a passionate team of local construction and crafts people, skilled conservators, supply chain and engineering specialists who have worked incredibly hard on this iconic landmark, and together we are all keen to do whatever we can to help moving forward.”

The BBC quoted Billy Hare, a professor of construction management, as suggesting the structure may now have to be demolished as the building could be structurally unsound.

At its height, 120 firefighters and 20 fire engines were deployed to the scene in Glasgow city centre. As of yet, no casualties have been reported.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “Glasgow School of Art is an institution that is loved not just by its students, staff and the people of this city, but by many around the world.”