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Mackintosh Library Burns & Burns Again
"The Mack," --Art Nouveau Treasure-- burned in Glasgow twice-- will be Rebuilt.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh & Margaret McDonald
Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 – 1928) was a Scottish architect, designer, water colorist and artist.1 His work, alongside that of his wife Margaret Macdonald (1864 – 19332 was influential on European design movements such as Art Nouveau and Secessionism.3
Glasgow School of Art Building and Library
Charles Rennie Mackintosh won the competition to design a new building for the new Glasgow School of Art Building— his first and most significant architectural commission. It was built between 1896-1909.
Mackintosh unified a staggering variety of influences, from traditional Japanese courtyards to Gothic revivalism to the natural world itself—all realized using modern, industrial materials and techniques.
Among the most distinctive features of the building is the library, which features towering curvilinear woodwork in daringly dark timber.4
For the interior furnishings, Mackintosh collaborated with his wife and fellow Glasgow School artist, Margaret Macdonald, who contributed to the unexpected combination of geometric and floral motifs throughout. They coordinated everything with the architectural features, from the curtains on the windows to the drinking glasses used in the building. The resulting building was multifaceted, audaciously asymmetrical, and full of personality.
The “Mack” made the Glasgow School of Art emblematic of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School style.
Glasgow School Movement
Around 1900 Mackintosh’s trailblazing architectural aesthetic bloomed across his hometown of Glasgow, Scotland. These buildings and their furnishings helped lay the foundation for the Glasgow School movement, which became the United Kingdom’s most notable contribution to international Art Nouveau.5
A Tribute and Memory to the Mackintosh Library noted:
Mackintosh drew inspiration from nature, making the library's natural atmosphere quite typical of his aesthetic; this was however, by no means a negative. To create such a provocative aesthetic whilst avoiding the dangerous territory of themed architecture required great craft and skill. Mackintosh mastered this through maximizing light and materiality; by determining its arrangement and using this to drive the aesthetic quality of space, he created a powerful response through a series of subtle and surprising design decisions. Such as in the library, Mackintosh successfully contorted a palette of dark colors and heavy materials from a claustrophobic environment into a sensation of light and openness.6
The Mack Burns and Burns Again but Will be Rebuilt.
On 23 May 2014 the Mack was ravaged by fire. The library was destroyed, but firefighters managed to save the rest of the building. On 15 June 2018, about a year before completion of the restoration of the building the School was again struck by fire. This second fire caused catastrophic damage, effectively destroying all the interiors and leaving the outer walls so structurally unstable that large sections of them had to be taken down to prevent uncontrolled collapse. 7
Since 2018 significant work has been undertaken to stabilize and clear the Mackintosh Building, with some 5500 tons of debris removed from the building by 2022 in phase 1 of the project. In 2023 Phase 2 works were completed with the dismantling of the Library Tower. Work has now commenced that will support the Glasgow School of Art’s ambition for the faithful reinstatement of the Building including the wrapping of the Building.8
Designing the New : Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Style. Glasgow New York Munich: Glasgow Museums/Glasgow Life; American Federation of Arts ; DelMonico Books Prestel. 2019; Mackintosh Charles Rennie Alison Brown Susan Pacitti Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and Walker Art Gallery. 2018. Charles Rennie Mackintosh : Making the Glasgow Style. Glasgow: Glasgow Museums; Macaulay James Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Mark Fiennes. 2010. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton;Davidson Fiona. 2018. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Minneapolis: Quarto Publishing Group UK.
Mackintosh Margaret Macdonald and Hunterian Art Gallery (University of Glasgow). 1983. Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh 1864-1933: Hunterian Art Gallery 26 Nov 83-7 Jan 84. Glasgow: University of Glasgow; Balmer Megan Meredith College (Raleigh N.C.). Honors Program and Meredith College (Raleigh N.C.). Department of Art. 2016. Art Nouveau and the Views of Women : An Exploration of the Works by Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh. Raleigh N.C.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh – a modern couple. National Trust for Scotland. (February 2021).
More photos of Library here: Glasgow School of Art is Charles Rennie Mackintosh's "masterwork" (dezeen.com)
Snow, Emily (2022). Charles Rennie Mackintosh in 10 Scottish Art Nouveau Designs. The Collector. (Nov.2022). The figurehead of the Glasgow School movement, Charles Rennie Mackintosh is remembered for his prolific contributions to international Art Nouveau.
Niezynski, Lesley. 2014. "Tributes & Memories: The Mackintosh Library by Lesley Niezynski." The Architects' Journal (Nov 21).
Cause of fire that destroyed Glasgow School of Art ‘will never be known.’ The Guardian. January 25, 2022. The Mackintosh Building