Yesterday I could smell the smoke and hear the sirens before I learned what was happening: the Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building was on fire.
Last night, the Scottish Fire Service issued a statement saying that the building was largely structurally intact, and that the majority of the content was also saved: a much better outcome than had perhaps been expected. This afternoon, the GSA released a statement by Muriel Gray on the state of the Mackintosh Building updating that information:
Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated.
But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact. Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.Also after ensuring no lives were in peril they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded. We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.
Tragically many students have lost some or all of their work, but many others have had theirs preserved, and curators and academic staff can expect to be allowed to enter the building in the next few days to try and assess what can be salvaged.
The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.
As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.
Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all.
I don’t think I have ever been prouder of being part of the institution over these last two days. I’s not just been the amazing team work, professionalism and support that everyone involved with GSA have demonstrated, but the warmth of support and help from the wider public and all our friends across the world has astonished us. We ‘d like to thank everyone from the depths of our hearts.
GSA have set up a fund in response to many enquiries about donations. Anyone who wishes to offer practical assistance can find out who to contact on this page.
This is going to be a difficult few days for the GSA students whilst they wait to find out what has happened to their work, and unfortunately, some students will have lost everything. It’s not much consolation, but our thoughts are with them. The Mackintosh Building has been damaged, but the creativity, vision and passion of the people of the GSA is still intact, and the school, its students and graduates will continue to flourish.