Steven Holl Architect’s New Glasgow School of Art Unanimously Approved by Glasgow City Council’s Planning Committee

Glasgow City Council’s Planning Committee has unanimously approved Steven Holl Architect’s design for The Glasgow School of Art’s new building.

The core principle of the school’s campus plan is a new, 11,250 square meter academic building housing a broad range of studios and teaching facilities for the School of Design, as well as workshops, lecture facilities, communal student areas and exhibition spaces for the School and a new Mackintosh interpretation center. Steven Holl Architects, with Glasgow-based JM Architects and Arup Engineering, were selected in September 2009 to design and deliver the building to sit fittingly opposite the Mackintosh building and next to the Assembly Building.

The building is designed in complementary contrast to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 1909 Glasgow School of Art – forging a symbiotic relation in which each structure heightens the integral qualities of the other. A thin translucent materiality complements the masonry of the Mackintosh building and volumes of light express the school’s activity in the urban fabric, embodying a forward-looking life for the arts.

“Sited opposite a world-renowned architectural landmark of the caliber of the Mackintosh building, Phase 1 of the Garnethill campus demanded a design that respected its situation as well as having qualities that allowed it to stand on its own,“ says Bailie Liz Cameron, Executive Member for Development and Regeneration at Glasgow City Council, “We commend the process by which this building has been commissioned and believe it has produced a bold, innovative and contemporary design which will be a worthy addition both to The Glasgow School of Art and the architecture of the City.“

Professor Seona Reid, Director of The GSA says, “We are delighted that Glasgow City Council has given the green light to a building that we believe addresses all the needs of a 21st century Art School and will create an inspiring environment in which to work, study and visit. We are particularly pleased that the Planning Committee has recognized the rigorous process that has informed every aspect of the commissioning and design development process: the choice of materials, the manipulation of light, the sustainability of the design and its relationship to both the Mackintosh building and the Garnethill area as a whole.”

Working simultaneously from the inside out – engaging the functional needs and psychological desires of the program – and the outside in – making connections to the city campus and relating to the Mackintosh building opposite – the design creates a vibrant, cutting-edge facility that simultaneously values continuity with history.

Mackintosh’s inventive manipulation of the building section for light has inspired the approach towards a plan of well proportioned studio volumes in different light. Studios are illuminated through the mixing of north and south light, while “Driven Voids of Light” deliver natural light through the depth of the building center. In addition, the “Driven Voids” allow for the integration of structure, spatial modulation and vertical ventilation through the building, eliminating the need for air conditioning.

A ‘Circuit of Connection’ throughout the new GSA encourages the ‘creative abrasion’ across and between departments that is central to the workings of the school. The open circuit of stepped ramps links all major spaces – lobby, exhibition space, project spaces, lecture theater, seminar rooms, studios, workshops and green terraces for informal gatherings and exhibitions.

Along the South elevation, aligned with the Mackintosh main studios, a landscape loggia gives the school an exterior social core open to the city. The natural vegetation routes the water into a small recycling water pond which will reflect dappled sunlight onto the ceiling inside.

Demolition of the Newbery Tower and Foulis Building to create the site for the Phase 1 design is scheduled for summer 2011 with work on the new building planned to begin in the autumn. The build is expected to take around 2 years with the Design School relocating to Skypark during this period.