Sunday, 9 March 2014

Glasgow School of Art - an unnecessary fuss

The new Reid Building - image from Urban Realm photography by McAteer
The new Reid Building - image from Urban Realm
photography by McAteer

You know, I'm completely sick of reading about the so-called Reid Building and Glasgow School of Art's campus master masterplan. It isn't a big deal yet folk on Twitter, newspapers, magazines and professional journals just won't shut up about it! Shut Up!

Back in March 2011 I opened the world's eyes to a new way of looking at this minor building. I was disappointed that a couple of truly significant buildings by Keppies were going to be demolished to make way for this new build. The Newbery Tower - named after Fra Newbery who was the Headmaster and Director of the School from 1885 to 1918 - was a great building. It was proud and erect! The Bourbon Building which straddles Renfrew Street - named after the French architect Eugene Bourbon, the first Professor of Architecture at the Glasgow School of Art - is also a stunning work of art - as was the Foulis building now sadly demolished. Of course the Art School have brought themselves up to date with 21st Century attitudes by naming the new building after the cost-cutting petty bureaucrat Seona Reid, former Director of GSA, rather than someone of significance in the world of art.

I made the point three years ago that the Art School should have looked at greenfield sites for their new campus and I still believe it was a mistake not to do this. Even a more spacious urban site would have been more sensible. For example, I hear that when the students were decanted to the bright and modern Skypark while the Reid was being built they absolutely loved it. One of the obvious reasons for this apart from abundant car parking was getting away from the cloying atmosphere and dreary historical presence of the Mackintosh Building which is bound to suffocate creativity.

I made it clear in 2011 that the Keppie buildings should have been kept and that the Steven Holl building should have been erected on the site of the Mackintosh Building. I'm not saying for a moment that the Mackintosh Building is insignificant or without merit and interest to some eccentric folk and it should clearly be properly recorded and photographed before demolition. But it has outlived its usefulness and is certainly a massive constraint on the Art School's campus masterplan.

Looking at the reality of the Reid Building there isn't that much to say about it and I'm amazed at the column inches that the housewives and other amateurs of the chattering classes have generated about it - "Yes I like it!" "No you are wrong - it is an insult to Mackintosh". Ad nauseam - who cares? Don't these folk understand that it is absolutely nothing to do with them and that their pathetic opinions don't even matter - at all? It's just a new building that might last another 40 years. Mind you it seems to be falling to pieces already! Just Shut Up!

Have a great week everyone and remember you are always welcome to drop into Auchterness anytime and have a nice wee biscuit and a cup of tea and a chat. I think we have Rich Abernethy this week.


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