Rebuilding the Glasgow School of Art's Mackintosh building as a "faithful reinstatement" of the one destroyed by fire three years ago is the preferred option for its future, art school chiefs have said.

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The world-renowned building, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, was extensively damaged when a fire broke out late on June 15, 2018 as it neared the end of a £35 million restoration project following a previous fire in May 2014.

HeraldScotland: The Mackintosh building north facade. Photo credit McAteer.The Mackintosh building north facade. Photo credit McAteer.
A strategic outline business case (SOBC) for the Mackintosh Project, which involved a rigorous analysis of the options for the building, was carried out and narrowed down to create a short list of deliverable ones - faithful reinstatement, hybrid and new build - which were further tested against a "do minimum" option.
Glasgow School of Art (GSA) said the SOBC demonstrated that the best option is to undertake a faithful reinstatement within the practical constraints of the regulatory environment, and the preferred option will now be further considered.

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Building work would start between 2022 and 2027.
Professor Penny Macbeth, director of GSA, said: "The original Art School building is synonymous with The Glasgow School of Art and it was central to the GSA's learning, teaching and research for over a century, as well as being an important part of Glasgow's cultural life and heritage.
"One of the recommendations of the Scottish Government's culture tourism Europe and external affairs committee report was that we should examine a range of options for the future of the building, and the strategic outline business case has done just that, subjecting each of them to a rigorous analysis.
"Core to the SOBC was a programme of stakeholder engagement and I should like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took part in this programme, including our external steering group, led by Professor John French, for their vital contributions and insight.
"We will continue to work closely with our stakeholders throughout the project."

HeraldScotland: Debris cleared from within the building. Photo credit McAteer.Debris cleared from within the building. Photo credit McAteer.
Faithful reinstatement would comprise a full reinstatement of the Mackintosh Building, including retaining and reusing the remaining structure.
This includes the reuse of the existing foundations and remaining stone/masonry external walls, and remaining internal walls and floors where possible.
The existing external walls would be supported by a new temporary facade-retention structure, if necessary, to allow the construction of a new internal frame, into which the external walls will be tied to create a new solid structure.
Spaces such as the library, boardroom, director's office, Mackintosh Room, lecture theatre, studio 58, the Hen Run, Loggia, Museum and Studio 11 would be reinstated, together with all the other spaces, including studios.
This option also takes account of compliance with the latest building regulations.

HeraldScotland: Inside the Mackintosh building after the 2018 fire. Photo credit McAteer.Inside the Mackintosh building after the 2018 fire. Photo credit McAteer.
GSA said the preferred option addresses the key success factors in each of the areas of the business case and will benefit the nation, students, the community, academia and the economy by delivering GSA's academic objectives.
The preferred recommendation will face more detailed evaluation at the outline business case stage, which will look in more detail at areas including financing.

However, leading architect Professor Alan Dunlop, a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland and the Royal Society of Arts and who trained at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, said: “The principal elements that made it so brilliant, the sweeping entrance staircase through the foyer then up onto the open first floor gallery; the double height studios with open access corridors; open staircases either end; double height landings and the innovative plenum system could not be replicated, in my view, without much compromise.    
 “The Mackintosh building’s “faithful reinstatement” has to be undertaken with profound sensitivity and expertise, so that Mackintosh’s legacy is respected. 
“The reinstatement seems to be part of a five-year plan and I would suggest that a trust is now specifically set up to manage that process.”
More than 120 firefighters tackled the 2018 blaze at its height. The flames also took hold of nearby music venue the 02 ABC.