The most distinctive feature of a new £50 million art school building in the centre of Glasgow is almost complete.

The "driven voids of light", a key and dramatic design feature of the new art school building on the apex of Garnethill, are now in place

The new building has been designed by the American Steven Holl Architects in partnership with JM Architects of Glasgow.

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The voids are now in place after being tested and built at Sir Robert McAlpine's plant yard near Coatbridge. The building will be lit internally by the shafts which will send natural light down through the building.

As well as studio space, the new building will contain the Centre for Advanced Textiles, digital media spaces, a lecture theatre and exhibition space. It will face the world famous Grade A listed building in Renfrew Street, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

Professor Seona Reid, director of the art school, said: "It is terrifically exciting to see Steven Holl and JM Architects' design coming to life and in particular to experiencing how the unique driven voids of light work. We are looking forward to seeing the building start to cantilever over the Vic [the student union] in the new year and to topping it out in the spring."

The new building has necessitated the demolition of two 1960s buildings on the GSA campus. The building will be finished in the summer of 2013.

The demolition of the Foulis Building and Newbery Tower meant the full facade of the Mackintosh Building could be seen with an unhindered view for a time.

The design of Holl's building has been partially inspired by Mackintosh's most famous creation, with its use of natural light.