THE architects behind the doomed restoration of the Glasgow School of Art have dismissed a damning report which blamed the project’s main contractor for fire safety failings elsewhere as “irrelevant”.

Kier Construction hit the headlines earlier this year after an inquiry found it was responsible for a catalogue of defects during the construction of the DG One leisure centre in Dumfries.

But despite the report’s author Professor John Cole highlighting “extensive failures” in fire safety measures, the team rebuilding the Charles Rennie Mackintosh building following the initial blaze in 2014 said the findings had never been formally discussed.

Kier Construction was the main contractor on the Glasgow School of Art restoration project when the building caught fire for a second time in June. There is no suggestion it was responsible.

It came as it emerged ventilation ducts which helped the first fire take hold were still in place when the second blaze broke out this year.

The ducts were being used to run cables and pipes through the Mackintosh building during its £35 million reconstruction, and were due to be fire-stopped at the end of the project.

David Paton of Page\Park architects said there had been a “rigorous process” to select a contractor, during which Kier showed itself to be best placed to take on the revamp.

He said: “A shortlist was drawn up, and there was rigorous questioning and scoring on that. And out of that came a decision to appoint Kier, who showed themselves to be appropriate.”

But under questioning from Joan McAlpine MSP at Holyrood’s culture committee, he suggested Professor Cole’s report – published in April this year – had never been raised as an issue, despite its content.

Ms McAlpine said the inquiry's findings were “pretty devastating” and were widely publicised in the media.

She said: “I want to know what you did in April 2018 in response to this devastating report about Kier, which mentioned fire stopping as an inadequate measure. Did you do anything?”

Mr Paton said the architects were “on site on a daily basis”. He added: “We were monitoring and watching the work that was going on, and we had no concerns.”

Asked again whether he had raised the report, or whether the art school had raised it, Mr Paton added: “As far as I’m concerned, that was irrelevant to this contract.

“We were focused on the work that we were doing and making sure that what Kier were doing on site was correct.”

Speaking after the committee meeting, Ms McAlpine said the admission ventilation ducts were not “fire-stopped” at an early stage would shock many people given their role in accelerating the first fire four years ago.

She said: “Despite that glaring vulnerability, there was no sprinkler system operating before 2018 and Keir admitted to the committee that the fire alarm was regularly disabled.

“It's difficult to see what additional fire protection measures were put in place to protect this priceless asset. It seems the client did not question the failure to deal with the ducts and Keir were unable to share details of protection measures detailed in the insurance policy, despite being a co-signatory. The contractor was also vague about what happened on the night of the 2018 fire.

“It was also concerning to learn that the ducts were identified as a problem as far back as 2008 but were not stopped then either. We heard a sprinkler system was recommended but it was not installed immediately and we heard cost was a factor in that delay.”

Page\Park have been retained by the Glasgow School of Art (GSA) as conservation experts for "the Mack" since the early 1990s.

In written evidence to the culture committee, the firm said the second fire at the world-famous building was "an appalling event which has left our dedicated team of conservation architects completely shattered”.

It said fire safety upgrades had been put in place since 2014’s blaze.

Professor Cole’s inquiry found Kier Northern – now Kier Construction Scotland and North East – was "unquestionably" responsible for the shoddy work identified in DG One.

The Dumfries leisure centre opened in May 2008 at a cost of £17m, but was forced to close just six years later after a catalogue of construction defects were discovered.

Kier previously said the report’s findings related to work "delivered by the former Kier Northern's Carlisle office over ten years ago”.

It said it has a “leading reputation for safety, efficiency, quality and long-term commitment to our clients and communities”.