Glasgow School of Art to spend £80m transforming main campus

The Glasgow School Art which has announced major plans for its campus on Garnethill on April 21, 2016. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

The Glasgow School Art which has announced major plans for its campus on Garnethill on April 21, 2016. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

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Glasgow School of Art is to spend £80 million overhauling its main campus - more than twice as much as expected - in the wake of the blaze at its iconic Mackintosh Building.

A new £32 million fundraising campaign has been launched to help meet the cost of restoring and upgrading the Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed landmark, as well as transforming the former Stow College building nearby.

Damaged by fire in May 2014 the restored Mackintosh Building will be the heart of an extended campus, with the building returning to its original academic configuration and as a home for all first year students. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Damaged by fire in May 2014 the restored Mackintosh Building will be the heart of an extended campus, with the building returning to its original academic configuration and as a home for all first year students. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

The scale of work planned for the campus in the next few years is much more extensive than previously announced by the art school - which unveiled a new £50 million building just weeks before the fire caused extensive damage to Mackintosh’s 1909 masterpiece, including the destruction of its iconic library.

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GSA director Professor Tom Inns admitted the art school had been taking time to “pause and reconsider” the future shape of its main campus.

He said the scale of development planned would help accommodate a planned 25 per cent increase in student numbers by 2018.

Some £17 million has already been secured by the art school for the restoration of the Mackintosh Building, which went on fire while students were putting the finishing touches to end-of-year projects. An official investigation found the blaze was triggered by flammable gases from a canister of expanding foam.

The art school - which has previously won backing from stars like Brad Pitt, Peter Capaldi and Bryan Ferry - wants to raise a further £15 million from its new Mackintosh Campus Appeal.

GSA chiefs have now unveiled plans to relocate the fine art department from the Mackintosh Building ahead of its planned reopening in 2018 under plans to expand the total campus.

First year students in architecture, design and fine art are instead expected to share the use of the Mackintosh Building in future.

The cost of the work on the Mackintosh Building alone, which was estimated at up to £35 million last year, has soared to £51 million.

This is being put down to new plans for an extensive overhaul of the east wing of the building, which was largely unaffected by the fire nearly two years ago.

The remainder is to spent on the transformation of the old Stow College site, which the art school expects to conclude the purchase of in the next few weeks.

Two other GSA sites (the JD Kelly Building and Richmond Building) have been declared surplus to requirements and will be sold off to meet the costs of the overall project.

Professor Inns said: “Over the last 10 years the GSA has undertaken phased developments of the campus in Garnethill, refurbishing some buildings, replacing others that were no longer fit for purpose and constructing the Reid Building.

“The fire required us to pause and reconsider, but we are now moving forward to create a newly-extended campus with the restored Mackintosh Building at its heart.

“The acquisition of the former Stow College site is a fundamental element of our new estate development strategy.

“It will mean that we can bring together all pathways in the school of fine art in one specially-adapted building for first time in over 50 years. It will also mean we can create the space to support collaboration across our disciplines as well as with other academic, third-sector and industry partners

“This next phase of development will help us achieve our academic aspiration to become a global leader in studio-based learning and research, provide the space to accommodate a 25 per cent increase in our student numbers by 2018, and importantly provide the GSA with space for future growth.”

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