The Glasgow School of Art’s fire-ravaged Mackintosh building will be rebuilt, its director has confirmed
The commitment from Tom Inns ends weeks of speculation over the future of the building after experts said they feared the second blaze had damaged the 110-year-old structure beyond repair.
‘We’re going to rebuild the Mackintosh building’, he told the Guardian, in his first interview since the fire. ‘There’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.’
Industry experts said this week the GSA had questions to answer over its oversight role as well as the management of the site by Keir Construction, the contractors overseeing the Mac’s restoration following the earlier 2014 fire.
But while acknowledging there was ‘anger and frustration’, Innes said he was confident that questions of how the school could have suffered a second fire would be answered by a Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investigation.
Inns also said that the rebuild costs would be covered by insurance and that assurances from Kier that an adequate fire safety strategy was in place had been ‘professionally checked’ by the art school.
The commitment from the GSA director came as engineers began the task of dismantling unsafe sections of the building, an operation expected to last eight weeks.
Dominic Echlin, a structural engineer from David Narro Associates who is leading the project to forensically take down the remains of the Grade A-listed landmark, said the Mac was in a dangerous condition.
‘The primary aim of the initial works is to make the building safe and structurally stable. It is important to understand that our agreed approach is the safest way to dismantle the dangerous elements of the building and, importantly, ensure there is no damage to nearby properties or risk to those working on site.’
The ‘controlled dismantling’ of the damaged masonry and brickwork, to be carried out by contractor Reigart, will be undertaken brick by brick, with heavier stonework removed using crane hoists before being stored off site.
The Mac was due to reopen next year after a £35 million Page/Park-led restoration following the previous blaze which destroyed around a third of the building.
The latest fire destroyed much of the restoration work, although Inns also confirmed that around half of the fixtures and fittings from the Mackintosh library were in storage at the time.
For weeks since the June 15 fire, a fierce debate has raged over the building’s future with suggestions ranging from a competition for an entirely new piece of architecture to leaving its charred ruins to stand as a symbol of the ‘precariousness of history’.