In 1896, the city firm of Honeyman and Keppie submitted a design from one of their junior draughtsmen, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second half 10 years later.
More than a century after it opened, Mackintosh's School of Art remains a functional working building.
It is increasingly seen as a important architectural monument in its own right and is a listed building.
With increasing interest in Mackintosh and Glasgow, the School of Art -which is recognised as one of the architect's masterpieces - is visited by more than 20,000 people a year.
It is home to an extensive range of furniture and fittings, watercolours and architectural drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The school also owns a substantial collection of work by former staff and students and a large archive. -
It has produced most of Scotland's leading contemporary artists and since 2005 almost a third of Turner Prize nominees.
Since 2009, a rolling programme of work has been carried out to upgrade the historic building.
Stuart Robertson, director of the Mackintosh Society, was on a tour of Mackintosh buildings when he heard news of the fire.
He said: "My reaction was shock and horror. The building is unique and the Royal Incorporation of British architects voted it the best designed building by a British architect in 170 years.
"The building is priceless and there are a lot of valuable items in the library area which is one of Mackintosh's works of are a lot of valuable items in the library area which is one of Mackintosh's works of art."
The School of Art has produced a host of famous alumni across the creative fields over the past 165 years.
As well as renowned artists, former students include members of the bands Travis and Franz Ferdinand, Murial Gray and actors Peter Capaldi and Robbie Coltrane.
Several winners of the prestigious Turner Prize studied at Glasgow School of Art (GSA), including Martin Boyce, who scooped the prize in 2011 for his installation Do Words Have Voices, beating what critics felt was the strongest shortlist for many years.
Graduate Douglas Gordon took the prize in 1996 while it was won by Richard Wright in 2009. Simon Starling also picked up the accolade in 2005.
This year three out of the four candidates for the UK's best-known art award - worth £25,000 - studied at the school.
Dublin-born film-maker Duncan Campbell, 41, has been nominated for his presentation It For Others, described as a reflection on a 1950s documentary about African art.
He studied in Belfast before completing the Master of Fine Art (MFA) programme at Glasgow in 1998 and continues to live and work in the city.
Canadian Ciara Phillips, 37, is a Glasgow-based screen printer shortlisted for a project where she set up a temporary studio and invited artists, designers, and local women's groups to produce new screen prints. She also completed an MFA at the School of Art in 2004.
Tris Vonna-Michell, 31, was born in Southend-on-Sea and graduated from Glasgow in 2005.
Other famous artistic alumni include Alasdair Gray, writer of Lanark, who is also known for his murals around Glasgow in locations such as Oran Mor and the Ubiquitous Chip, and artists Joan Eardley and Peter Howson.
Artist and playwright John Byrne, former partner of actress Tilda Swinton, also studied at GSA, as did poet and playwright Liz Lochhead and Labour politician Cathy Jamieson MSP.
In the music world, Fran Healy, Dougie Payne and Andy Dunlop from Travis and Robert Hardy from Franz Ferdinand are among the school's alumni.
David Shrigley, nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013, studied at GSA, as did Jenny Saville, who exhibited in the Royal Academy's Sensation exhibition in London in 1997, and Alison Watt, the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Scottish National Gallery.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh himself studied at GSA where he met his wife Margaret MacDonald.