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Steven Holl unveils Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh designs


New York-based practice Steven Holl has submitted his competition-winning proposals for phase one of The Glasgow School of Art re-development

Designed in partnership with Glasgow’s JM Architects and Arup Engineering, the new scheme will replace the Foulis Building and Newbery Tower on Renfrew Street opposite Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famous Mackintosh building, and ‘significantly’ refurbish the Assembly Building which houses the Students’ Union.

The project team was picked last September (see story below) following an international contest to design a new building for the Art School which would improve teaching and research facilities as well as providing access to new publicly accessible spaces, including exhibition galleries and the Simon Sainsbury Interpretation Centre.

The scheme features a serie of ventilated voids rising through the building, which according to the practice ‘penetrate the building’s core and deliver natural light through its depth; providing direct connectivity with the outside world through the changing intensity and colour of the sky’.

Steven Holl's proposed 'Mackintosh' building - Circuit of Connection

Steven Holl’s proposed ‘Mackintosh’ building - Circuit of Connection

Seona Reid, director of The Glasgow School of Art, said: ‘An intensive design development process has produced a building which not only provides all the specific functionality that we need for our educational and research purpose but also creates an environment which will inspire all who study, work and visit there.

‘The inventive use of light, material and section make it a worthy companion to Mackintosh, a striking building of which we will all be immensely proud.’

The Phase 1 building is set to open in time for the 2013/2014 academic year.

Previous story (AJ 08.09.09)

American Holl lands Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh competition

New York-based practice Steven Holl has swooped in to win the much-coveted ‘Mackintosh’ contest in Scotland

The firm, which will work alongside local practice JM Architects, saw off 150 entrants to land the prestigious project to design a £50 million building for the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) opposite Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s famous Garnethill landmark.

The team beat six other finalists, which included Scots Nord with John McAslan, Glasgow’s Elder and Cannon and Museum of Scotland architects Benson + Forsyth.

The other practices to miss out were Spain’s Francisco Mangado Architects, Dublin’s Grafton Architects and London-based Hopkins (click here to see schemes by all the shortlisted practices).

Seona Reid, director of contest organisers, the GSA, said: ‘I am absolutely confident, as was the selection committee, that our collaboration with Steven Holl Architects and their work with JM Architects will produce a world-class building for the School and for Glasgow, an inspiring environment for our staff and students, an inventive and worthy companion to Mackintosh and a building of which we will all be immensely proud.’

The design team will now work with GSA to refine the masterplan for the school’s Garnethill estate redevelopment and to design and deliver phase one – a new building opposite the Mackintosh, which aims to ‘significantly enhance the teaching, learning and research facilities available to GSA students’.

A ‘thrilled’ Steven Holl said: ‘It is an honour to make a new architecture for a 21st century school of art across from Mackintosh’s inspiring masterwork of the early 20th century.

‘Since my student days at the University of Washington, the amazing Mackintosh building, with its tremendous light and magical scale, has been a seminal reference.’

He added: ‘Mackintosh’s building continues to inspire as a work of architecture and a place to make art. The invention of an original architectural language is a fresh today as it was then. Its intensity of detail, light and material calls for the highest aspirations of a phenomenologically driven architecture of our time.’

Not everybody has welcomed the news. Alan Dunlop of Glasgow practice Gordon Murray + Alan Dunlop (gm+ad) said: ‘I’m very disappointed it’s not a Scottish [lead] architect but frankly not surprised.

‘I thought Holl would be the favourite even before we saw what he would propose. I wouldn’t be surprised either if it came down to the question of who was actually leading the team. With Holl you have the kudos of a talented ‘lead’ international architect and the Glasgow architects playing a supporting role.’


Neil Baxter, secretary of the RIAS said: ‘It’s all good news. A nice combination of American and Glaswegian expertise.

‘It has to be said Henry McKeown and Ian Alexander, the directors of JM Architects’ Glasgow office, deserve a big break. Now they have one.

‘They will do a fantastic job and create something worthy of sitting across the road from such a brilliant predecessor.

‘[Meanwhile] Stephen Holl is really an architect’s architect. Quiet, undoubtedly respected and not your ‘starchitect’.

Responding to criticism the team is not led by a Scot, he added: ‘It is always slightly churlish to act as if Scotland is a fiefdom. Namely. nobody can come here but still insisting we can go anywhere else.

‘It is not an issue as long as we are exporting as much as we are importing. And, it sounds like a platitude, but just getting on a shortlist with a field of this calibre was an enormous achievement in itself.’


Readers' comments (27)

  • I'm very disappointed in yet another parochialism from Alan Dunlop but frankly not surprised.

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  • I would agree with Alan. Norman Foster was removed from the San Francisco refurm as the Americans wanted the money kept in America. Why should we not do the same. All the local Architects should kick up a fuss especially in teh current climate.

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  • Possibly the best man won?

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  • All this chat of a local architect not having won is perhaps a little insulting to JM Architects. I don't know what their exact role in the design process was but I imagine it was a little bit more than making sure Mr. Holl was fixed up with tea and biscuits

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  • What is that RIAS representative talking about, everyone comes here.

    A Spanish architect built our parliament; an Iraq London architect is building Glasgow's transport museum; Norman Foster is building the SECC Extension, having completed the original structure, Richard Rogers won the Glasgow Bridge Competition, now completed by a Dansih firm, another Danish Practice is building the new Aberdeen University Library, has there been a major cultural or media project completed by a Scot's based practice recently?. A fiefdom , get real . Has he seen the submissions I wonder? Good for you Dunlop.

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  • major cultural project, scottish architect?

    doh! gareth hoskins is building a golf course for trump

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  • *1

    Like Miralles and the Parliament, Holl's name has been on this project from the start. I am an admirer of his work, having visited a number of his projects in the USA.

    However, on the basis of the boards submitted the work particularly by Nord and John McAslan was equal to it and in my view much, much better, indicating a clearer understanding of the site issues, brief and location; a more sensitive response to the Mackintosh building; with a clever and innovative section and all beautifully presented.

    I can only assume therefore that the "unanimous" decision reached by the judges came as a consequence of Holl's growing international reputation and being a single name designer with high profile built projects, all of which he could out match the Nord McAslan team.

    I visited the Nelson Atkins in April, it's a immaculately detailed building which glows in the dark, filled with not very much. Costing millions and millions of dollars, I could see how it could impress any judge but it is not comparable with the GSA brief.

    So,*1 a bit of parochialism is probably what we need at the moment, particularly from our major cultural institutions and more support for Scots architects, how else can we compete in future with the likes of Holl. The talent is absolutely here, give it a chance.

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  • Not just the golf course, but the entire development, luxury housing, hotels and all. That includes clearing people from their homes, a move apparently endorsed by Trump's architect. Local people aren't taking this lying down.



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  • this thread shows how parochial the old mother land is.

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  • Or an opportunity for some self-promo for certain Glasgow architects, on the basis that all publicity is good publicity?

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