In his first interview since the fire at the Glasgow School of Art, the school’s director has stated that the Mackintosh building will be rebuilt. Work began this week to dismantle walls that have been irreperably damaged by the intense blaze. The commitment by Tom Inns comes after weeks of speculation about the fate of the 110-year-old building, after many experts raised fears that the scale of the damage would make it impossible to rescue the structure.
Inns told The Guardian: “We’re going to rebuild the Mackintosh building. There’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.”
Inns said he was confident that the many questions raised about how the building could have suffered another devastating fire, after a previous blaze in 2014, would be answered by an ongoing investigation by the Scottish fire and rescue service, and he said the rebuild costs would be covered by insurers.
He also said assurances from Kier Construction, the contractors overseeing the Mackintosh restoration after the 2014 fire, that an adequate fire safety strategy was in place had been “professionally checked” by the art school.
A third of the Mackintosh building, including it’s famous library, were damaged in the first fire. The building was due to reopen next year after a £35 million restoration.
The second fire gutted the remainder of the building, although some fixtures and fittings were being restored or were in storage at the time of the fire last month.
Inns said it was impossible to know how much of the building would be reusable until the dismantling work to make the site safe was complete. He added that detailed 3D digital modelling carried out as part of the restoration work gave specialists “incredible insight into every corner of that building”, which would help to speed up the dismantling plans and could aid any rebuilding efforts.
Inns was unable to discuss specific concerns while the fire service investigation was ongoing, but he said: “We’re really clear in our minds that we had assurances from our contractor about what was in place on that site and that it totally fulfilled all the requirements [for fire safety].”
“The building is insured and we’re confident that we can rebuild the building based on that.”
He said it was too early to say whether further fundraising would be required