June 29, 2018

Large Section of the Glasgow School of Art Will be Dismantled

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND—To avoid the risk of catastophic collapse, a significant portion of the south façade of the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building will be dismantled. A survey of the building found the façade unstable after the building’s south wall had moved significantly following the heat from the June 15 blaze and subsequent cooling, Severin Carrell reports for The Guardian.

The controlled dismantling will begin within days to prevent a structural failure and ensure the stability of the structure’s remaining walls. “The building has moved so much, much more than we expected. The south façade is a particular risk and we’re now saying it is likely rather possibly going to collapse,” a spokesman for the Glasgow City Council said. “It will be taken down urgently to probably at least the first floor level, but safely. And by safely we mean it will take a couple of days to come up with a methodology to do that.”

A detailed assessment of the structure found more significant damage than expected to the building’s west gable while the east gable has shifted outwards from the adjoining walls. A safety cordon around the Mackintosh remains in place and the rick of collapse has delayed nearby residents from returning to their homes.

The fate of the Mackintosh remains unclear. Glasgow School of Art has disagreed with the city council’s decision to urgently dismantle the south façade, favoring an approach that would stabilize the entire structure.

The school and Kier Construction, the firm responsible for renovations from the May 2014 fire, have jointly suspended their contract, citing the impossibility of its fulfillment. A reconstruction of the Mackintosh building, an option favored by the school and Historic Environment Scotland, has been estimated at £100 million.

GSA alumni and professors have argued against such a plan. Architect Alan Dunlop said, “I disagree that the replication of the art school is the best way to honor Mackintosh—let it go. There should be a full public discussion to include the option of an international competition to design a new art school.”

Ray McKenzie, an honorary professor at the school, wrote for, “Anybody who tells you they know what should happen next is either a fool of a clairvoyant. I certainly have no answers, but I do have a suggestion: It should be left as a ruin. Architectural ruins are among the most emotive objects in the world, combining a physical embodiment of history with a reminder of the unrelenting process of change that drives it forward.”

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