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Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterpiece, the world-famous School of Art in Glasgow, is set to undergo its largest-ever renovation.

The AJ can reveal that local practices Page and Park Architects and ZM Architecture have taken on the hugely important scheme, which got the go-ahead last week thanks to a £5 million Heritage Lottery Fund cash injection.

The project, which could be seen as one of the most important currently under way, will return many of the areas within the 1899 building back to their original condition.

Proposals include removing a series of partitions, screens and mezzanine floors built during the 1970s.

One of the major problems facing Page and Park, which will have responsibility for the conservation work, will be the replacement of the aging electrical and heating systems with modern services.

Central to the project is the creation of a new 'interpretive' centre - offering visitors to the school uninterrupted views of the much-loved Arts and Crafts classic, which houses the Mackintosh School of Architecture, known as the Mac.

Dubbed the 'Window on the Mac', this 150m 2 freestanding structure by ZM Architecture will replace a 1980s building by Gillespie Kidd & Coia.

It is hoped the new centre, which will house a permanent exhibition on the Mac, will be the catalyst for the regeneration of the Art School campus.

It is understand that the school will soon launch an international competition to find an architect to mastermind the overhaul of the site.

Meanwhile, project architect Brian Park, who has been involved with the Mac for the last eight years, has already started carrying out a detailed survey of the building. He said: 'This will be the biggest programme of work on the building since it was built.

'We have worked on a number of other Mackintosh buildings and this is the most exciting so far.' ZM Architecture's Peter Richardson added: 'Our interpretation-centre building will be integral to the whole tour of the Mac'.

The project is due to 'nish in late 2009, to coincide with the centenary of the completion of the building's second phase.

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