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Dunlop: ‘build a new library at the Mac not a replica’

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Glasgow-based architect Alan Dunlop has said that the Mackintosh Library should not be built as a replica

Speaking in the Scottish press, Dunlop said the school should find an innovative, modern architect to build a new library in the space at the Glasgow School of Art where the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed library, which was destroyed by fire earlier this year, formerly stood.

He said: ‘There is a debate going on about what should be done and I am worried at the moment - I think rebuilding it would just be just a replica of Mackintosh, and I am sure you could do it, but the best thing would to have a new idea, something new which is worthy of the Mackintosh Building.

‘There is actually no way you can replace it as it was, there was 100 years of age and patina that you would have to replicate.

‘I don’t think it would be what Mackintosh would do - just look at the expansion of his work in the years between each part of the Mackintosh Building being built [in 1899 and 1909].’

Earlier this month, renowned conservation architect Julian Harrap challenged the school to resist demands to rebuild its library ‘exactly as it was’ before the blaze in May.

Harrap said he feared ‘insurers and loss adjusters’ were driving an unnecessarily hasty effort to build a replica of the library.

In the aftermath of the fire, a number of architects said the library should be replicated.

John McAslan – who restored Mackintosh’s last major commission, at 78 Derngate in Northampton – called for the library to be rebuilt ‘as authentically as possible, to recreate the feel of the building as it was the moment before the fire.’

Although firefighters managed to save 90 per cent of the 1909 Grade A-listed art school from damage during the blaze in May, the library was almost entirely gutted.

A report released by the fire service said the ‘construction, layout, and high fire loading’ of the iconic library meant the room, and its contents, ‘became totally involved in the fire’ (AJ 26.11.14)

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Readers' comments (2)

  • I'm with John McAslan on this. I think it should be recreated as it was. It only has any meaning if it is here and it is possible to build designs based on it (or not) elsewhere. After all Mackintosh didn't build it himself so recreating it from his drawings (and other sources) is the same as it was first time around. I don't view this as a lost opportunity. The 100 years of patina are gone and are nothing to do with Mackintosh.

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  • Agree, I don't want a replica

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