Brian McQuade: Kier helping with return of ‘the Mack’

Glasgow School of Art's iconic Mackintosh building was badly damaged in the 2014 fire. Picture: John Devlin
Glasgow School of Art's iconic Mackintosh building was badly damaged in the 2014 fire. Picture: John Devlin
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The Mackintosh building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) is something of a local landmark for our team; given that it’s in the centre of Glasgow and just seven miles from our office, it’s a building that a lot of us pass and admire on a regular basis.

But we are not alone, as thousands of people travel from all over the world to see the building and marvel at its architecture. Only a few months ago it graced the pages of the New York Times in an update on the works that will be undertaken to restore the building after fire damage done in May 2014.

Consequently, we are very proud to have been chosen by the GSA to be the main contractor and a big part of the overall team to deliver this restoration project, returning this iconic building to its former glory.

READ MORE: Glasgow School of Art restoration ‘to cost £35m’

It’s a complex project which will be undertaken in two phases. We are currently working on site to reinstate the roof and replace and repair the fire-damaged stonework. Following this, we will begin the main work of restoring the west wing and upgrading the east wing interior of the school.

Kier has diverse experience of delivering a wide range of heritage projects and working on important historic sites nationwide. It’s this experience and expertise that becomes critical on a restoration project like this, as it’s very different to a more standard modern construction project.

On the Mackintosh project, this will range from using heritage stonemasons who restored Windsor Castle, to importing and crafting tulip wood from the United States to restore the iconic Mackintosh libary.

In parallel we are currently working with the Edinburgh College of Art to refurbish its Grade-A listed sandstone building on Lauriston Place in a £14 million project – another scheme which has both local and international importance. In addition to this, we were also recently awarded the contract to carry out restoration, redevelopment and upgrade work at one of Scotland’s oldest and most historic concert halls – the A-listed Aberdeen Music Hall.

Heading south of the border, Kier Workplace Services recently began a five-year contract to provide facilities management services at the Royal Opera House and we’ve also started work to build the £19m Bristol Aerospace Centre which, when complete, will be home to the world-famous Concorde 216, the last of its type to fly.

And prior to these projects, Kier carried on the refurbishment of the Grade I listed roof at King’s Cross station in London, which involved 24-hour working and completing the works above a fully operational railway station.

Whatever the size, scale and nature of the heritage project, Kier is likely to have embraced the challenge before. And in blending ancient heritage skills and modern engineering expertise, with state-of-the-art building information modelling (BIM) technology, we are proud to be successfully restoring and retaining some of the country’s most important landmarks for us and future generations to enjoy.

• Brian McQuade is managing director of Kier Construction Scotland & North East

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