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Light fantastic as art school takes shape

PIECE by piece, the impressive Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art has been taking shape ahead of its opening next year.

DEVELOPMENT: The Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art is taking shape.
DEVELOPMENT: The Reid Building at Glasgow School of Art is taking shape.

The painstaking £50 million development, with its striking design, has been documented in a series of images showing key parts being lifted into place.

The main photo illustrates how the new building cantilevers over the original facade of the Vic, the school's student union, and stands opposite the world-famous Mackintosh main building.

Among the Reid Building's unique features are three massive circular shafts called the Driven Voids of Light, created to deliver natural light and ventilation and eliminate the need for air conditioning.

The Reid Building is due to be officially opened in April next year and, as work nears completion, tradesman can be seen putting the finishing touches to studios, lecture theatres and workshops.

Designed by the leading US architect Steven Holl in partnership with Glasgow-based JM Architects, the Reid Building is one of the most significant buildings under construction in the UK.

Professor Tom Inns, director of the Glasgow School of Art, said: "Steven Holl Architects and JM Architects have designed an inspiring new space for the GSA students and staff. We are excited about moving in to the building in the new year and enjoying the many creative opportunities that the design offers us."

The Reid replaces the Foulis Building and Newbery Tower, which were no longer fit for purpose, and is phase one of the campus developments at Glasgow School of Art. It will house offices and design studios, workshops, media labs, lecture facilities, exhibition spaces and student areas.

The building is made of concrete and has five storeys above ground and two basement levels.

It was named after Professor Seona Reid, former director of the art school, and stands on Renfrew Street in Garnethill.

The man behind the images, Herald photographer Colin Mearns, started documenting the construction work shortly after work began in September 2011. "Only two years ago I was taking pictures of what was just a massive hole in the ground in front of Mackintosh's original building and it was amazing to see the building go up in such a short time," he said.

"Among the highlights was photographing the various stages of construction of the three Driven Voids and accompanying Steven Holl as he toured the almost-completed building this year."

The photographer added: "I'm sure the Reid Building will become a much loved feature on the Glasgow skyline and be an exciting addition to the city's world-famous reputation for stunning architecture."

Mr Holl's previous designs include the Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki and the 2007 Bloch Building at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, and other buildings devoted to the arts in the US, Korea, China and Beirut. He is also designing a new Maggie's Centre at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London.

When he visited the Glasgow project in May he underlined just how significant the development is to him.

"My Glasgow building is my most important project because of its proximity to the Mackintosh building. It is a homage to Charles Rennie Mackintosh, whose inventive manipulation of space to deploy light inspired me to invent the Driven Voids of Light.

"I have never used them before, and I will never use them again, because they come from Mackintosh, who created the most important building in the UK."

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