Work to dismantle the dangerous parts of the Mackintosh building at Glasgow School of Art is continuing this week, with the aim of stabilising the remaining structure so local residents can return to their homes and businesses.
The Grade-A listed property in the Garnethill district of the city centre was devastated by fire last month, just weeks before a multi-million pound refurbishment project was due to be completed following a smaller blaze in 2014.
The celebrated building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and completed in 1909, was reduced to little more than its exterior walls.
Its unstable nature led to an exclusion zone being put in place around parts of Sauchiehall Street and wider Garnethill.
Local business owners and residents affected by the fire this week claimed the local authority is overwhelmed by the scale of the recovery task. In a letter to Nicola Sturgeon they have urged the Scottish Government to intervene.
Glasgow City Council insisted it had gone beyond statutory requirements in providing assistance.
The signatories to the open letter questioned whether the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) had been “allowed to dictate the manner and timeframe in which the Mack will be dismantled”.
In an update issued today, the GSA said work began on the central section of the south façade, above Sauchiehall Street, on July 11 and that this section had now been lowered to the bottom of the parapet.
Over the following weekend the south-east staircase, which was one of the most fragile areas of the building, was taken down safely.
Work on the east-end of the south façade is expected to continue for at least another two weeks.
Efforts to remove all of the coping stones on the top of the east gable is on-going, after they suffered severe fracturing caused by the metal cramps which hold them expanding in the intensity of the fire.
One sample has been retained with the remainder moved quickly and safely into the interior of the building. The central turret and top of the gable have now been removed, and the down-taking of the main section of the gable is now underway.
On the north-east façade the steel beams of the roof structure have been removed and reduction of the wall to the south of this area is now under way.
In the centre of the north facade the turret and set back section directly above the main entrance have been removed, and the tops of the two return walls have been lowered to second floor level. Reduction of the walls immediately to the south of this area is now proceeding.
Throughout the process the GSA’s contractor, Reigart, and expert structural engineers, David Narro Associates, have been assessing the condition of the masonry and then removing it in the safest way for both the workers and surrounding properties.
Where stonework has been assessed as significantly damaged and too dangerous to lift off the building it has been pushed into the interior.
“The GSA’s priority is to make the Mackintosh Building safe and stable so that the community can return to their homes and businesses at the earliest possible moment,” said Professor Tom Inns, director of The Glasgow School of Art.
“Our contractors are working hard to achieve this and are currently on schedule.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said this week it was working closely with Glasgow City Council to offer financial support to residents and businesses affected by the fire.