Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Mackintosh Building S43

It’s the first anniversary of the big fire, and it seems it’s not been forgotten.

Although there’s little external evidence of ongoing activity at the remains of the Mackintosh Building (I know, I’ve been past it a few times, with little new to see), it seems that work is still being undertaken on a daily basis to make the structure safe, and parts are still being deconstructed.

Glasgow School of Art has re-affirmed its commitment to restoring the Mackintosh building, one year after it was ravaged by a tragic fire.

On the evening of Friday June 18, 2018, firefighters raced to the city centre blaze which had engulfed the Mack. When the fire was finally extinguished, a scene of devastation was left behind.

Ever since, Glaswegians have been left wondering whether we will ever see the Mack in its full glory again – the building was just months away from completion after being gutted during another major fire in 2014.

Yet Glasgow School of Art has this week confirmed to Glasgow Live the school’s intention to restore the building in honour of Charles Rennie Mackinstosh.

They said: “The Glasgow School of Art is committed to rebuilding the Mack as Mackintosh envisaged it. We will be bringing it back for our students, for the people of Glasgow and the wider world.

“This Friday will see 2019 Graduation which will be a day of celebration for our amazing students following a hugely successful Degree Show. Many will them will then be exhibiting work in London at the annual graduate showcases.

“We are focusing on this.”

However investigations into the fire continue, with Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service both involved – it is still unclear what sparked the blaze, with the building then under the day-to-day control of Kier Construction.

When asked by Glasgow Live what stage their inquiries are at, an SFRS spokesperson commented: “The investigation is still ongoing”.

Glasgow School of Art committed to restoring Mackintosh building one year after fire

Investigators are entering the final phases of their probe into the fire which devastated Glasgow School of Art.

The world-renowned Mackintosh building was extensively damaged when a blaze broke out on 15 June last year.

A year on, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said several hundred tonnes of debris still had to be removed from the remains of the building.

Neighbours of the art school told BBC Scotland they were eager to find out the results of the investigation.

Investigators have examined two sectors of the building following the removal of 400 tonnes of charred wreckage, according to the Scottish fire service.

They have also scoured hundreds of hours of CCTV footage and taken witness statements.

But before the final stages of the investigation can take place, more debris needs to be taken away from the “complex site”.

SFRS Assistant Chief Officer Ross Haggart said the fire service was working alongside on-site contractors to have the “significant volume” of remaining fire debris removed.

He added: “The fire investigation remains focused on likely origin and cause – but against the backdrop of an unprecedented large scale fire scene within a complex and challenging site.

“Our fire investigation team is working hard based on what remains within the building once the debris is removed, alongside all other evidence available to them.”

The probe is being led by fire service group manager David Dourley, who said the final phases of the investigation would be “challenging” due to the volume of debris.

“It is also a challenging site and we will require, at times, to work within confined spaces,” he said.

“But safety is paramount and each time we move to begin an excavation or go onto the site we will consult with Glasgow School of Art and also the on-site contractor.”

Earlier this year, the school of art was criticised by Holyrood’s culture committee, which found bosses did not give sufficient priority to safeguarding the building.

It has also faced criticism from some local residents and businesses who were unable to return to their properties for several months.

Ms Simpson said: “I want to know who is responsible for the fire because it is somebody’s fault. There is somebody, or a variety of bodies, that were to blame but you need to see the facts first before you start shouting ‘it was your fault’.

‘Final phases’ of Glasgow art school fire investigation

Probe into Glasgow Art School fire moves into final phases

And the ‘forgotten’…

To many Glaswegians, the major fire at the School of Art may seem like it was just yesterday, but for the residents of Garnethill this has been the longest year.

12 months ago, on Friday June 15, the area was devastated by a huge blaze which engulfed the heart of the community – the world renowned Mackintosh building.

Not only did the residents have to suffer the sight of ‘a fireball falling from the heavens’ on their very own doorsteps, some were unable to access their homes for three months in the fall-out from the fire.

Yet there is finally hope for those living in Garnethill and optimism for the future. During a deeply traumatic time, community spirit has never been stronger.

In the week in which Glasgow Live reported the School of Art’s unequivocal commitment to have the Mack reconstructed “as Mackintosh envisaged it”, we had the opportunity to speak to chair of Garnethill Community Council, Jane Sutherland, about the experiences of the area’s residents over the last year.

Recalling the night of June 18, Jane said: “It was very frightening – it was a very scary night.

“We were all out on the streets, watching a fireball fall from the heavens. It really was terrifying.

“The firefighters looked like they had water pistols on it. It was an absolute inferno. I think they expressed on the night that some of them had never seen anything like it. I believe it was visible as far afield as Motherwell. It really was like a volcano.”

While the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland’s investigations into the blaze continue, the scars of that evening are still understandably apparent, yet there’s a sense from Jane things are starting to move in the right direction.

She explained: “I think there is a traumatised community.

“As you can imagine, it’s been an exceptionally challenging time, for all of the residents in Garnethill and for all the people who work here as well, because access to Garnethill is very restricted and that’s the ongoing day-to-day problems.

“It’s also been difficult with access because of the Sauchiehall Street Avenues project – slowly that’s all opening up and that will see a boost and an improvement to the fabric of the neighbourhood – bring a bit of cheer to faces.

“It’s been really hard-going with all of that building work and all of the building work going on at the Mack and the Reid Building. Renfrew Street is still closed, and looks like it might be for sometime yet, which restricts access.

“The thing is not just to dwell on the challenges of it, how hard it’s been – it has been shockingly hard – it’s the efforts the community and the Art School, all kinds of groups, have been working very, very hard since the fire to improve the community relations and see what good we can bring out of this.”

And in spite of initial difficulties, the relationship between the School of Art and local residents has now strengthened, while the city has given its backing to local community projects helping to renew Garnethill’s sense of purpose.

Jane added: “Since November, I think the Art School have recognised their communications with the community wasn’t as good as it should have been. I think they’ve made sterling efforts to really integrate into the community here, and offer opportunities for practical help and assistance.

Glasgow Art School fire – traumatised Garnethill residents reflect on ‘shockingly hard’ year

I’ll just leave these here…

Remembering the Glasgow Art School fire – one year on from devastating blaze

02 ABC one year on from Glasgow Art School blaze – here’s what’s happening

 

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

Mackintosh Building Renfrew Street

 

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16/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S42

Not related to the building, but still of interest.

Glasgow School of Art chairwoman Muriel Gray has temporarily stepped down from her role almost a year after fire engulfed the Mackintosh building.

The renowned art school was extensively damaged last June while it was undergoing a £35m restoration following a previous fire in May 2014.

Ms Gray, whose husband has cancer, said she was stepping down from her role “for personal family reasons”.

Vice-chairwoman Professor Nora Kearney will take over as interim chairwoman.

Ms Gray said: “I have advised the board of governors of the Glasgow School of Art that I will be taking a temporary period of absence both as chair of the board and as a lay governor for personal family reasons.

“Given the challenges the school has faced over the past 12 months this was an incredibly difficult decision to take.”

Muriel Gray steps down from Glasgow School of Art post

Near identical coverage from STV:

Muriel Gray temporarily steps down from art school role

While the BRAVE MORONS COMMMENTERS who skulk after articles in The Scotsman never disappoint with their predictable responses:

Muriel Gray temporarily steps down as Glasgow School of Art chief

I’m almost surprised none suggested the board of the GSA was responsible for this most recent Glasgow blaze.

Firefighters tackle huge blaze at university building

Glasgow School of Art post fire

09/06/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S41

Other than the straight reporting occasionally seen in the media, this must be one of the few sensible articles I’ve seen arising from the fires in Glasgow.

There’s no point in dwelling on my point, as I consider the concept to be too well drilled into too many Scottish minds, but the near obsessive to find someone to BLAME before doing anything else is simply not helpful or productive – but I’m sure must bring a nice warm glow to the hearts of those who always want someone’s head to roll. Especially if they get one, or more.

Meanwhile, the grown-up try to do something useful.

Professor Guillermo Rein believes emergency services across the globe should be sending officials to Scotland to learn from the experience of the two Glasgow School of Art fires.

Fire crews who battled two major fires at Glasgow School of Art have the knowledge to prevent blazes such as the Notre-Dame disaster happening again, an expert has claimed.

Imperial College London Professor Guillermo Rein believes emergency services across the globe should be sending officials to Scotland to learn from the experience of the two Glasgow School of Art fires.

The fire science expert told the Sunday Mail blazes in heritage buildings are rare, occurring perhaps once or twice in a firefighter’s career.

But he insisted full “knowledge sharing” should take place when they do happen – and said the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) is a world leader in this area of expertise.

Rein said: “There’s a lot to be learned from the School of Art fires. I hold the Scottish firefighters in very high esteem.

“For any city in the world that has a cathedral or significant heritage building, I would be sending a delegation to Glasgow.

“What they saw and experienced is very valuable. We cannot afford to have many more of these types of fires.

“We know now that those involved in the work which was being carried out at Notre-Dame were surprised that the fire burned so fast.

“But they designed the fire protection in isolation from the rest of the world – they did the opposite of learning from others.

“It turns out their fire protection design was flawed. It shows why it is important to learn from experiences of others and to share knowledge.

“It highlights that the rest of the world needs to know and learn from what the Scottish fire services experienced.”

Rein said that it’s a “concern” how the Glasgow School of Art burned not once, but twice – though it was not the fire service that failed.

Rein added: “They did the best they could – but it means the rest of the world can now learn from them. They will have become world leaders in dealing with fires like this.

“If I was the mayor of Paris, I would be sending officials to Scotland to learn from what they experienced fighting the School of Art fires.”

Rein said firefighters “need to be aggressive with the fire but gentle with the building when fighting such fires”.

He added: “This is when I really admire the firefighters – they manage to protect
the structure while attacking the fire.”

Glasgow Art School firefighters ‘have knowledge to prevent future blazes’ after Notre Dame

Mackintosh Scott Street from Pitt Street

Mackintosh Scott Street from Pitt Street

12/05/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S40

Back in Mackintosh Building S37 I tried to catch the remaining features of the o2abc, a place I’d never even noticed, and was amazed to find was popular. So, I obviously have no life (in the eyes of some).

At the time, street access was still limited and I couldn’t get near enough for a façade pic taken looking west.

The street is gradually clearing, and I was able to add the missing view to the collection.

Click for bigger.

Sauchiehall Street O2 Looking West

Sauchiehall Street O2 Looking West

Notre Dame

I still find it interesting to compare the miserable reaction of some Scots and Glaswegians immediately after the Mackintosh fire, and the open hostility to the building, its potential restoration, and the raising of funds, with the haters not wanting to see a penny of any public money spent on it, and others calling for the remains to be razed to make space for something ‘useful’ instead.

Rather different from the response on the Continent after the fire damage to Notre Dame, where they seem to have been showered with so much money for rebuilding that they might have TOO MUCH!

Of course, the people who are happiest when they are miserable are pitching in as well, arguing the money should go elsewhere (maybe they are Glaswegians, spreading their ‘joy’ around the world)

Since the fire that tore through Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris last week, donations have been pouring in from across the world to restore the structure to its former glory.

Ordinary people and billionaires have pledged at least €750m (£650m; $835m) in the 10 days after the main spire and roof of the building collapsed in a huge fire on 15 April.

One early estimate by French construction economists suggests that the donations may far surpass the cost of repairs.

Amid the wave of goodwill and generosity, critics have argued that the money could have been better spent elsewhere.

But those collecting money for the repairs are urging people to keep donating, saying a price cannot yet be put on the work.

“We should not tell people to stop donating as we still don’t know how much it is going to cost,” said Laurence Lévy of French heritage group Fondation du Patrimoine.

Notre-Dame fire: Has too much money been given to rebuild it?

Man with big money bag

28/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S39

Not really a Mackintosh Building item as such, but more of a spin-off, or just some observations

While the fire at the Mackintosh Building seems to have generated little more than a witch-hunt for someone to blame (and either burn at the stake, or maybe just fire) and given some really really hostile Glaswegians the opportunity to demand the site be razed and reused for something ‘useful’ which, does not need any public money, the Notre Dame fire of last week seems to have brought a more sympathetic response.

There was an almost immediate response which had promises of rebuild and restoration, with no calls for blame apparent, nor any demands that no money e wasted on restoring an old ‘pile of junk.

Also, unlike Glasgow’s fire, there was consideration of arson, which I don’t recall seeing anyone suggest may have been the reason for the blaze.

Interesting?

I found that unusual in a place once known historically as ‘Tinderbox City’ – but to this day, I can’t recall seeing even consideration that arson or deliberate fire-raising was behind the fire.

However, it seems that Notre Dame is not the only such building to have gone up in flames recently, and due consideration to arson HAS been raised in that respect.

Vandals and arsonists have targeted French churches in a wave of attacks that has lasted nearly two months.

More than 10 churches have been hit since the beginning of February, with some set on fire while others were severely desecrated or damaged.

St. Sulpice, the second-largest church in Paris, after Notre Dame Cathedral, had the large wooden door on its southern transept set ablaze March 17.

Investigators confirmed March 18 that the fire was started deliberately, according to the website of the Vienna-based Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination Against Christians in Europe, an independent organization founded with the help of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences.

Vandals, arsonists target French Catholic churches

Then again, Notre Dame was also being renovated.

Nervous Renovation Ticking

21/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S38

No actual news this week, but I did see a related item in another article, and it is something which I don’t think has been properly reported by the media.

Rightly or wrongly, I get the impression that the only thing the media (and the Art School and its board’s detractors) concentrate on is Blame, and the Cost of rebuilding. The former for no reason other than its lust for a public hanging (it wants more heads to roll), and the latter so it can complain and whine endlessly about that cost, and who foots the bill.

I haven’t seen any mention of this (in any items fed to me)…

It has since emerged it cost the local authority £569,000 to carry out emergency repairs at the Glasgow School of Art when it burned down last June.

“It is easier to retrieve the money from the Glasgow School of Art emergency repairs which cost £569,000 as it was simpler to track the owner.”

This figure comes into public view as it seems that the simple ploy of a tangled web of owners stretching to India means the council might only recover half of £1.4 million spent on similar emergency repairs following the fire at Victoria’s Nightclub along the road.

Councillor Frank McAveety said: “The overall cost for the council to deal with the site is £1.4m which is taxpayer money.
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“At the moment officers expect to recover just 50 per cent of the cost but it is hard to get the full amount from insurers as we do not know where the owner is currently living.

“We are still trying to clarify who owns the building as it has changed hands several times. I believe the current owner is living somewhere in India.

Victoria’s Nightclub demolition and emergency repairs sees Glasgow City Council spend £1.4 million after fire

While I’ve no intention into descending into some sort of nit-picking analysis, it seems that the Glasgow School of Art is getting a lot of kickings, but will have to pay its bills (and these are not even for restoration work), while some property or club owner at a distance enjoys a substantial discount at our expense. If they are ever even identified and presented with a bill which can be enforced.

And at a time when Glasgow City Council could well do without having to squander its funds on compulsory, safety related works on private (moneymaking) enterprises, while public venues go wanting for millions to rescue them.

Just my observation.

14/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S37

With no more news of the ‘Witch Hunt’ following the board of the Glasgow School of Art (personally, I’d be getting my Little Black Book out, and taking note of the names of the most vociferous ‘hunters’ – wondering if they are making so much noise about others in order to divert any attention from themselves), I thought I should acquaint myself with the O2abc building, since it’s one I’d never had reason to pay any attention to. I didn’t even know it was in use, having never seen its doors open. Guess I was never nearby at the right time.

Since the odds on what’s left of the building being left standing for much longer, I took the opportunity of a decent day to fly past and collect a few pics.

At the time, there was a fair amount of work underway in Sauchiehall Street (and there still is, although it is coming to an end), so some views and shooting locations were restricted.

I still managed to get just about the same shot I’d have taken of the front entrance and door, even if there was some large machinery abandoned nearby.

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Entrance

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Entrance

Looking west at the corner of the building.

Click for bigger.

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Looking East

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Looking East

Looking east.

At the time I couldn’t really get a decent view by moving further to the left (to match the west view above) as there was too much junk and pedestrian control fencing in place, and took this standing in Douglas Street, but still had to stitch two images together to get the shot I wanted.

So, I’ll have to check back, and hopefully get a second bite at this once the street is cleared.

Click for bigger.

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Stitch West

Sauchiehall Street O2abc Stitch West

So, they cleared the street, and I did get my ‘missing’ pic for the set.

Sauchiehall Street O2 Looking West

Sauchiehall Street O2 Looking West

Finally, a look at the Scott Street side.

Some fairly well twisted steel roof beams on show there.

Scott Street O2abc Roof

Scott Street O2abc Roof

The weather got fairly crappy after I took these pics, and I haven’t been back since, so the street may be clear now.

Since we’ve moved  the clocks forward, I should take an evening ride in to see how it looks since I was last there.

07/04/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mackintosh Building S36

This isn’t strictly the Mackintosh Building, but since other buildings affected by the fire have been given considerable publicity, I thought I should redress the imbalance and include one which has not, so far I’ve noted it mentined in stories fed to me, been given any attention.

Standing directly across from the Mackintosh Building, on the other side of Renfrew, is the relatively recent Reid Building.

Named after Dame Seona Reid who stood down as director of the GSA in 2013, the year before the building was completed, the new structure was given a plain monochrome finish, featuring an external skin of semi-transparent acid etched glass panels with a green tint (actually the glass’s natural colour).

Although I wasn’t able to visit the site for some time after the second fire, and there was no access to view the facade of the Reid Building, I’m reasonably sure I could see evidence of the cladding having been melted by the heat radiated from the blaze in the Mackintosh Building, and of material having melted and dripped or run down the front of the new building.

I could only see this looking from the side and behind, and had no recollection of the structure, and with so little to be seen, didn’t try to take a pic, In retrospect, it would probably have made sense to have tried.

Today, Renfrew Street is open, to view at least (and take pics from Scott Street), if not to walk along, and the state of the facade can be seen.

Still clearly ‘work in progress’.

The damaged glass and cladding have been stripped, the surface behind has been made good, and the fixings which will eventually hold new cladding have been set in place.

Reid Building Fire Repair

Reid Building Fire Repair

Looking a little closer at the detail.

Reid Building Repair

Reid Building Repair

A look at the cladding fixtures, since they’ll disappear from view once the cladding is fitted.

Reid Building Cladding Fixtures

Reid Building Cladding Fixtures

Finally, a reminder of how the facade looked when seen from Scott Street just after the Reid Building was opened back in 2014.

Original Reid Building

Original Reid Building

24/03/2019 Posted by | Civilian, council | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soft protest at the Glasgow School of Art

Although the original Glasgow School of Art building (which I really really MUST learn to call the Mackintosh Building) is closed for restoration following the fire, the Glasgow School of Art lives on just across Renfrew Street, in the £30 million Reid Building.

Like most places, it’s closed most times I get near it, but I still get to press my nose up against the glass (and there’s plenty of it in the new building) and stare inside.

There’s also a little shop in one of the side windows, and this trio was smiling back at me last time I looked in.

Cats Protesting Soft Toy Rights

Cats Protesting Rights For Soft Toys

04/06/2018 Posted by | Appeal, photography | , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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