Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Architect: Part 1
Andrew MacMillan & Isi Metzstein


Andrew Macmillan (Left) & Isi Metzstein (Right), 1983

©Monica Pidgeon

Isi and I are proposing to discuss the Glasgow School of Art using it as a vehicle to look at Mackintosh's intentions in architecture, and looking also at his achievement. I think the reason we've selected this building is, in the first place perhaps, because it's his most famous building, mostly widely known, and perhaps also because it's the only significant public building of the Free School movement. Secondly, I think it demonstrates most clearly Mackintosh's particular abilities to start with a seemingly simple schema generated by the program for the building, simple plan and section, and then to go on to develop a very rich and specific architecture through the exploitation of every opportunity the building presents for a fresh look. And thirdly because the building was actually built in two stages: the first between 1897 and 1899 and the second between 1907 and 1909; that is, at the beginning and at the end of Mackintosh's most creative phase when he built all those marvellous white houses, the tearooms, the exhibitions - Mackintosh really at his best. And therefore, by looking at this building, we can see how he developed from being a talented follower of the English House movement to a mature international master.


Glasgow School Of Art By C.R. Mackintosh. View From North-West

©Andrew MacMillan & Glasgow School Of Art

The Glasgow School of Art was the result of a competition in which stage Mackintosh was a partner in a firm and was at the age of about thirty three. But in the event, when he clearly won the competition it turned into the art of patronage by Newbery, the Head of the School of Art, and the opportunity for a man of thirty three to build a significant public building in Glasgow at a rather late stage in the development of Glasgow's Victorian architecture, and it puts it into the position of being the final statement of that period. Andy has referred to a simple plan and a simple section. I would demur a little bit about 'a simple section' but the plan is deceptively simple, and in fact I would consider it to be transcendentally ordinary.

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