The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is Scotland's only public self-governing art school offering university level programmes and research in architecture, fine art and design. The school is housed in one of Glasgow's most famous buildings, often considered the masterpiece of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and built between 1897 and 1909. The building was severely damaged by fire in May 2014.
Founded in 1845 as the Glasgow Government School of Design, it changed its name to The Glasgow School of Art in 1853. Initially it was located at 12 Ingram Street, but in 1869 it moved to the McLellan Galleries.
In 1897, work started on a new building to house the school on Renfrew Street. The building was designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, chosen for the commission by the school's director, Francis Newbery, who oversaw a period of expansion and fast-growing reputation. The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second half in 1909. The School's campus has grown since that time and in 2009, an international architectural competition was held to find an architect-led design team who would develop the Campus Masterplan and design the Phase 1 building. The Phase 1 building is opposite the Mackintosh Building on a site now occupied by the Foulis, Assembly and Newbery Tower Buildings. The competition was won by New York based Steven Holl Architects working with Glasgow based JM Architects.
The school has produced most of Scotland's leading contemporary artists including, since 2005, 30% of Turner Prize nominees and three recent Turner Prize winners: Simon Starling in 2005, Richard Wright in 2009 and Martin Boyce in 2011. The School of Architecture is highly rated by the architecture profession and the School of Design has been described by Design Week as "leaders in design education".
The School is organised into three academic schools, the Mackintosh School of Architecture (named after Charles Rennie Mackintosh, who is also the GSA's most revered alumnus), the School of Design and the School of Fine Art, each with its own academic programmes and research centres. Alongside the three schools there are a Digital Design Studio, specialising in 3D visualisation and interaction, a Forum for Critical Inquiry, which provides a range of non-studio-based learning, teaching and research, and the Graduate School. The GSA also has a long-established portfolio of non-degree provision, including leisure classes.
Disciplines include Fine Art Photography, founded by Thomas Joshua Cooper in 1982, Painting and Printmaking, Sculpture and Environmental Art, Product Design, Product Design Engineering, Textiles, Silversmithing and Jewellery, Interior Design, Communication Design, Digital Culture and Architecture.
The original Mackintosh building was severely damaged by fire on 23 May 2014. The extent of the damage and the future of the building have still to be determined. An initial fire service estimate was that 90% of the building and 70% of its contents had been saved.
The fire, which began in the basement, quickly spread upwards and, although it was brought under control quite quickly, significant damage was done to the historic studios and stairways. The renowned Mackintosh library was destroyed; the archive was stored elsewhere.There were no reported casualties.
The fire broke out as students were preparing for their Degree Show. Eyewitnesses said that the fire appeared to have started when a projector exploded in the basement of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building just before 12:30pm.