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GSA criticised over ‘Mockintosh Library’ replica move

March 13 2015

GSA criticised over ‘Mockintosh Library’ replica move
Glasgow School of Art has dismissed calls to build a contemporary library space within the ruined shell of Mackintosh’s masterpiece, choosing instead to create a replica of the iconic design to match the original as ‘closely as possible’.

The decision was announced by school director Tom Inns after painstaking forensic archaeology of the charred remains unearthed artefacts suitable for re-use; notably parts of the studio clock and metal light fittings.

Inns said: “We have learned a tremendous amount about the construction of the library which will be invaluable when we come to begin the restoration.

“All of the surviving material is now stable and secure. It will be reviewed by expert conservators as part of a recovery programme which will take place over the next three years.”

The move has been met with criticism in some quarters however with architect Alan Dunlop contrasting the decision with that of former director Francis Newbery, who commissioned the original library competition. He wrote to the BBC: “This is an opportunity lost, and makes a mockery of the architectural competition for new ideas.

“It’s a pity that Inns has taken the path of least resistance and has been less forward thinking than Newbery. He should have been brave and held out against the calls for replication aiming instead for innovation and a creative response to the needs of his students.”

Avanti, John McAslan + Partners, LDN, Page\Park and Purcell are competing to win the architecture design commission for the rebuild, the winner will be announced by the end of the month.


#1 Posted by Teacakeman on 13 Mar 2015 at 20:37 PM
I admire Alan Dunlop but I think he's called it wrong this time. The role of the conservators is more important for this job. Rebuilding isn't pastiche, and restoring CRM's masterpiece should be regarded in the same light a repairing a damaged Leonardo or Michaelangelo.
Neil C
#2 Posted by Neil C on 13 Mar 2015 at 21:09 PM
What if the Leonardo's Mona Lisa or Michelangelo's David was not just damaged but was totally destroyed? Would its replica be the same. No!

#3 Posted by Chris on 13 Mar 2015 at 22:32 PM
Sorry, but I'd rather have a replica than a modern ego trip. Reconstructions have their merit when it's appropriate.
a f
#4 Posted by a f on 13 Mar 2015 at 22:48 PM
Dunlop. Away and sharpen your crayons.
Anna K
#5 Posted by Anna K on 13 Mar 2015 at 22:55 PM
Yes Neil C, but the masterpiece has not been totally destroyed. It's still very much there, the shell, fragments of structure and in essence. Well done to the team for deciding to rebuild the masterpiece around the elements which can be restored.
#6 Posted by Roddy on 14 Mar 2015 at 02:43 AM
Everyone knows that Mackintosh designed everything right down to the door handles and escutcheons. To do anything less than a like for like replacement betrays the indivisibility of his vision .
mockintosh revival
#7 Posted by mockintosh revival on 14 Mar 2015 at 06:06 AM
True Anna K it was on the news, they have saved parts of a single light fitting, a bit of blue glass and a chair with three legs. That must be enough.
Neil C
#8 Posted by Neil C on 14 Mar 2015 at 10:47 AM
#7 and apparently parts of a studio clock. Numbers 3 and 8, that should be enough.
#9 Posted by Stephen on 14 Mar 2015 at 13:09 PM
@#1 and 2. To rebuild as was can accurately be defined as replication or pastiche, but that doesn't make it bad. The Tempietto was pastiche. Palladio employed pastiche and replication. Barrett homes and others have given pastiche a bad name but I think it's a shame to abandon it as a legitimate tool because of that.

@#3. Bit cynical that all modern design is an ego trip, which is the implication of your comment. Some living architects are talented and honest.

My opinion is that there are few moral absolutes so to be so fervently (and in many cases abusively) in one camp or the other to either rebuild the original or design afresh seems bloody-minded. I think if we held a design competition then CRM's design would win hands down. It's perfectly atuned to Mackintosh's original building, his vision, the site, the City and the brief (this last point is debatable but I believe this to be the case). Aside from that the library is only one space in a Mackintosh designed sequence and that sequence will be well served by having it's crescendo restored. It also serves as an exemplar, a museum and an experience and because of the information we have of the original it can be done well.
#10 Posted by Euan on 14 Mar 2015 at 13:20 PM
If Glasgow was short of opportunities to show architectural innovation I would agree with Alan.
#11 Posted by Clashnessie on 14 Mar 2015 at 13:27 PM
I'm with Dunlop. House for an art lover has never felt real to me. If there was more library structure to restore then I'd have a different view.
Methilated Spirits
#12 Posted by Methilated Spirits on 14 Mar 2015 at 14:35 PM
If modernist architects would like a modern library interior, then why not design one ... in a new building somewhere else. There is a time and a place...
Chris Bowes
#13 Posted by Chris Bowes on 14 Mar 2015 at 14:39 PM
Wake up folks, was it ever going to be anything else other than an evidence based, thoroughly researched reconstruction, and what's wrong with that?
Apple Mackintosh
#14 Posted by Apple Mackintosh on 14 Mar 2015 at 15:41 PM
I fail to understand references to 'Mockintosh'. The library will be reconstructed to Mackintosh's original design, he didn't build the library himself so why should a newly constructed library contain any less of his original design intent? Did JM's involvement with the Reid building mean it became "Mock Holl"?

I would agree with claims of the library being classed as a replica if the selected practice was simply tasked with designing the library to look like Mackintosh, implementing just an occasional art nouveau hat-tip along the way. This is the reinstatement of an important piece of Glasgow's architecture and not novelty for the sake of novelty.
#15 Posted by Bilbo on 14 Mar 2015 at 19:25 PM
Struggling to see why Dunlop gets so much airtime
Whats he delivered since the sad demise of GMAD ?
Nothing other than trying to get into the press as often as possible
Neil C
#16 Posted by Neil C on 15 Mar 2015 at 10:06 AM
@1 I never agree with Dunlop but here his arguement is solid. Were it the Huntarian Mackintosh Apartment, then I would accept a replication. Why? because it is a museum and for tourists . The Mack is a working building but with a Library that was designed for students in 1900. If The Tempieto was destroyed and rebuilt to include web access, computer terminal points, audio and visual screens then it would be unacceptable as pastiche. If the Sistine Chapel was destroyed, it would not be replicated or considered as authentic Michelanglo, even though much of it was painted by his studio.
mockintosh revival
#17 Posted by mockintosh revival on 15 Mar 2015 at 10:51 AM
#15 According to the BBC students were only permitted to use the library half a day a week!
#18 Posted by Chris on 15 Mar 2015 at 11:00 AM
Bilbo, we've tried to get Alan D involved in our Hub bids (a couple of which have been successful) and he has always turned us down. CB
#19 Posted by Bibo on 15 Mar 2015 at 12:28 PM
It's still nothing ?
I would suggest that hub is perhaps not the right procurement vehicle for producing anything special
Can you imagine if they tried to procure the Art School project through hub ?
Or even the V&A ?
At least it might be within budget but it would not be anything special
Still back to my point turning down projects is all well and good but it doesn't produce anything
It's very easy to voice your opinion, when you don't actually produce anything
#20 Posted by Chris on 15 Mar 2015 at 13:10 PM
#19 I know this forum is full of them. What have you produced ever, that makes your opinion valid? Saw him in a silver porsche on Friday so I don't expect Alan D to be too bothered about being a bottom feeder.
Billy M
#21 Posted by Billy M on 15 Mar 2015 at 16:02 PM
Well, if Mr Dunlop has spoken, surely the GSA must bend over backwards to do what he has recommended considering his wealth of experience in working with important, existing buildings?
#22 Posted by bilbo on 15 Mar 2015 at 19:42 PM
I didnt realise I had voiced an opionion on what should be done with the GSA Library
#23 Posted by Leslie on 16 Mar 2015 at 10:11 AM
To be fair to Dunlop Bibo, no one has delivered anything of note in Scotland in the last few years, with the exception of Reiach and Hall. That is why he is absolutely wrong about designing a new library.
Darth Vader
#24 Posted by Darth Vader on 16 Mar 2015 at 10:47 AM
The easy way is normally the right way.
#25 Posted by sMC on 16 Mar 2015 at 12:07 PM
I don't feel strongly either way about the library as both methods have merit. However, I wish Alan Dunlop would stop wasting his talent stirring up controversy online and get back to work. He is an extremely talented architect but seems to lack the business skills to make it on his own with out a partner with these abilities. Being a great drawer and design skills alone does not a great architect make. He has the skills to re-imagine the library but chooses to provoke others rather than put his own hat in the ring. Alan, your talent is being wasted.
Big Chantelle
#26 Posted by Big Chantelle on 18 Mar 2015 at 07:55 AM
If there was no fire, and there shouldn't have been, the building would have been intact still-- and no one would have suggested putting in a new library.

It took a tragic accident for the concrete lovin' modernists to cannibalise this masterpiece and try and impose their inferior architecture onto it.

And it IS A DISGRACE for Alan Dunlop to try and talk on behalf of MacKintosh. The audacity!!!!! Mr Dunlop, if you're reading this you have no right to suppose what another human being would do that is long dead. You are the custodian of YOUR OWN life -- not Charles Rennie MacKintosh's. MacKintosh designed the library the way it was. The way it functioned perfectly for a century. The arrogance of people like you to try and worm your 'architecture' onto a tragedy like this is disgusting.

And shame on anyone who supports not rebuilding the library as Mackintosh designed it.
#27 Posted by Artisan2 on 18 Mar 2015 at 09:51 AM
The fire has provided 'The Mackintosh Building' with world-wide attention. Glasgow's economy will be advantaged. Whose library would they all come to see?
#28 Posted by Sven on 18 Mar 2015 at 16:42 PM
"The fire has provided 'The Mackintosh Building' with world-wide attention. Glasgow's economy will be advantaged. Whose library would they all come to see?"

It will still be MacIntosh's library regardless of when it was built. Is the House of an Art Lover not a MacIntosh building? Looks like a MacIntosh building, it was designed by him and holds the signature of MacIntosh...therefore it is a MacIntosh building.
#29 Posted by Euan on 19 Mar 2015 at 13:23 PM
The library wasn't fully original anyway prior to the fire - it had been modified back in, I think, the 50's. I didn't note anyone over the last few decades insisting that it was changed back to the original design.
#30 Posted by Euan on 19 Mar 2015 at 13:26 PM
Not to mention the fact that it hasn't been a functioning library in years. It housed a special collection and was accessible only by appointment or as a tourist. Is that how it was originally intended? It hasn't served its purpose in years.
Architecture Student
#31 Posted by Architecture Student on 27 Mar 2015 at 14:09 PM
Conservation of such prestige history is essential in a world where cheap and fast builds are becoming the norm. However, the architects chosen for this task are renowned for their attention to detail and regeneration of historical masterpieces. I had every faith they would have approached this project sensitively and maturely, given the chance. This is such a fantastic opportunity for Glasgow and one that would allow students to continue to recognise the genuine talent of macintosh's craftsmanship but would also allow for a space that they actually enjoy to work in. A great opportunity lost.

#32 Posted by Leslie on 29 Mar 2015 at 17:58 PM
The announcement of the architect due soon. Let's hope it's the right one and we get a replica reproduction carried out thoroughly. This is no time for "innovation"

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