The Glasgow School of Art, one of Britain’s oldest and most distinguished design schools, has launched an international competition to select a team for a new studio and classroom building opposite Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1898 masterpiece, itself a competition winner. Superb though it is, the Mackintosh building is now surrounded by a hodgepodge of second-rate, “make do” structures that don’t meet the needs of the school’s 1,900 undergraduate and graduate students, according to school officials.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1898 masterpiece
Photo ' Finlay McWalter/courtesy Wikipedia

The Glasgow School of Art has launched an international competition to select a design team for a new studio and classroom building opposite Charles Rennie Mackintosh's 1898 masterpiece (above).

Project: Glasgow School of Art Redevelopment, Phase I
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Sponsor: Scottish Funding Council
Program: New studio and classroom building plus campus master plan
Deadline:  May 1, 2009, applications due online to
Results: Short list published May 31, 2009; Winner announced September 2009
Information: Macolm Reading Consultants is managing the competition. Write to

“Our ambitions are as strong as ever, but our current estate, with the exception of the Mackintosh Building, is a significant barrier to achieving them,” states the competition brief. “The school campus is spread over nine academic buildings and is simply no longer fit for purpose.”

The proposed building, and a new campus plan, will be funded primarily by the Scottish Funding Council, a government agency that distributes approximately 1.6 billion pounds annually to Scotland’s colleges and universities. The Council has pledged up to 50 million pounds for Phase I of the redevelopment project, with additional money likely for later phases. 

The competition jury will be chaired by Barcelona architect David Mackay, who together with former partners Josep Martorell and Oriol Bohigas, provided much of the master planning and urban design for the 1992 Olympics.

“One leaves the [Mackinosh] Building challenged and motivated to reach the same coherence achieved by this architect when he was only 30 years old,” Mackay says. “That is what this competition is about: open to all, from the 30 year olds to those, like Louis Kahn, who emerged later in life, over sixty and still learning.” He adds: “The jury will be looking for the intelligent capacity and sensitive dexterity of the applicants to translate, not copy, those pioneers of modern architecture within the historic context of Glasgow.”

Online applications are due May 1, with a short list published by the end of the month and a winner announced in September 2009. The new building is scheduled to open in 2013.