Mackintosh design at Reid Building, Glasgow School of Art

This morning, I collected a two persons from lodgings in Glasgow and embarked on a tour of sites associated with famous Glaswegian architect and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Background on Mackintosh and wife, Margaret MacDonald.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928) was an outstanding, Glasgow born architect and designer who pioneered the Modern Movement. He was famous for designing every aspect of a project down to such details as cutlery, furniture and light fittings. Mackintosh’s wife, Margaret MacDonald had design skills in her own right and co-operated with her husband on various projects. There exist about nine extant examples of Mackintosh’s work in and around Glasgow, West of Scotland.

Margaret MacDonald:

  • Wife of Charles Rennie Mackintosh
  • An early female graduate of the Art School.
  • Had skills in metal panelling, embroidery and textiles.
  • Worked closely with her husband on commissions.

First to House for an Art Lover

This building, although designed at turn of the 20th century, was not completed until 1996, the design having languished for some 90 years. Rooms include the Main Room, Oval Room, Music Room and Margaret MacDonald Room. The Glasgow School of Art (principal building also designed by Mackintosh) has space and facilities at House for Art Lover.

House for an Art Lover, Glasgow, Scotland.

Music Room at House for an Art Lover, Glasgow

View of Dining Room at House for an Art Lover.

Next to Scotland Street School.

Now a museum this building  was designed by Mackintosh between 1903 and 1906 and proved to be his last public commission in the city. Key features here are:

  • Reversal of tradition by giving the towers with conical roofs walls of glass with narrow stone mullions.
  • In the interior, spiral stairs were replaced with straight flights which benefit from the light streaming inside.
  • Verticality of towers played off against horizontal nature of rest of the building.

Scotland Street School, Glasgow

Next to the Mackintosh Church.

  • Commission for the design work was awarded to the Glasgow firm of Honeyman & Keppie with the work delegated to Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928)  who was simultaneously working on the new Glasgow School of Art.
  • Design influenced by the Free Gothic Style.
  • The only Mackintosh designed church which was actually built.
  • Mackintosh was restricted by limited space due to proximity of tenements and other buildings (since demolished).
  • The main body of the church seats 559 under a timber barrel-vaulted roof spanned by steel tie-beams.
  • The church features a short, tapering tower with attached octagonal stair tower.
  • No longer used for worship but a visitor attraction and Chief Office of the CRM Society. Weddings and other events take place at the church.

Inside Mackintosh Church, Glasgow.

Video clip of Mackintosh furniture at the Mackintosh Church.

After concluding the church visit we drove to the nearby Ruchill Church Hall which was Mackintosh designed but, unfortunately, it was not possible to gain access.

Next to the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

Here we had lunch and then visited the special Mackintosh exhibition marking the 150th anniversary of the birth of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Next to the Mackintosh Gallery which  principally comprises furniture, decorative panels and light fittings from the Ingram Street Tea Rooms and date from 1900-1912.

Mackintosh Gallery, Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum

Final visit to the Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art.

The Rennie Mackintosh designed building opposite was severely damaged by fire in 2014 and will not re-open until 2019.

Information obtained from the tour as follows:

  • During the 19th century Glasgow was a centre for heavy industry including shipbuilding and textiles.This wealth creation and activity generated a demand for design expertise across a range of disciplines which was supplied by the Glasgow School of Art (founded in 1845).
  • Francis H Newbery was Director of the School from 1885 to 1917. Under Newbery’s enlightened leadership new ideas and horizons were introduced, including art nouveau, which led to the ‘Glasgow Style’. Also, female students were admitted thus setting a precedent for Europe. It was here that English student, Margaret MacDonald met her future husband, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
  •  Under Newbery a new, purpose-built building was commissioned. Charles Rennie Mackintosh won the design competition in 1896 notwithstanding he was not a fully qualified architect at the time. He became a partner of Honeyman and Keppie in 1901.
  • The Art School was constructed in two phases (both designed by Mackintosh) with east section (below) completed in 1899 and the west section in 1909. Although superficially identical the later western half incorporated subtle changes influenced by art nouveau and Japan.
  • The iron-work embellishments feature the form of a rose, which is the symbol of art and life.Roses progressively open up from left to right (east to west).The bunch of vertical spikes may represent arrows or tulips.
  • The main entrance features the only stone carving, with a rose and female forms on either side.Latter are guardians of art and the Art School.
  • The east elevation incorporates Scottish Baronial influences, with even a dovecote on top. Absence of windows is to avoid conflict with light from north. The two apertures at ground level  were a later addition to allow for circus animals to enter. These were used as models by the students.
  • The blond, natural sandstone used in construction was quarried locally, near Queen Street Station.

Moving on to the new Reid Building:

  • Designed by Stephen Holl Architects, New York which was the winner out of 153 submissions.
  • Design complements and respects the original building opposite.
  • Faced with a thin skin of acid etched glass which is non-reflective.
  • Concrete inside with natural light providing an empty canvas for students.
  • Contains a row of three huge 5m-wide concrete cylinders that penetrate through the five storey frame on a sloping incline from the ground floor right up to roof level. These“driven voids of light” are multi-purpose cylinders to (a) bring light into the centre of the building (b) assist the building’s natural ventilation (c) provide structural support to resist vertical forces and wind loading and (d) in the basement, function as large cylindrical water tanks for the sprinkler system.
  • Displays less ornamentation than the original building opposite.
  • The furniture illustrated in the images below was specially commissioned by Mackintosh for particular properties. The clock dates from 1910 and has fourteen faces connected to a master mechanism which runs on a mixture of electricity and gravity.The clocks were produced by Dykes Bros, Glasgow.

Mackintosh Furniture at Reid Building.

At conclusion of tour guests were returned to their lodgings.