Almost a decade has passed since the unique and world-renowned Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art was badly damaged in a fire as final year students prepared for their degree show. 

Four years later, the category A-listed landmark - widely regarded as Charles Rennie Mackintosh's masterpiece - suffered a second, more significant fire as it was nearing the end of a £35 million restoration effort to repair the damage incurred during the 2014 fire.

Here’s a look at a complete timeline of the key dates from the 2014 fire to the second fire in 2018 and beyond: 

May 23, 2014: Fire sweeps through Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh Building

A major fire breaks out in the historic West Wing of the Mackintosh Building at The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) just after midday. The blaze quickly moves upwards – through three levels of studios – and outwards, to the first-floor library. 

Eyewitnesses believe the fire began in the building's basement when a hot or faulty film projector set fire to expanding foam being used in a student art show.

Firefighters arrive on the scene within four minutes of receiving the first emergency call. At the height of the fire, 17 fire units from across Glasgow join specialist units from across the country in attendance. The blaze is brought under control on Friday evening.

Stuart Robertson, director of The Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, said: "It's absolutely heartbreaking. It's like losing a limb. The school is totally unique. It's an art school but it's also a work of art in itself. Lots of people have been walking round in tears."

May 24, 2014: Confirmation that Mackintosh Library lost

Broadcaster Muriel Gray, the chairwoman of The GSA, confirms that the "iconic and unique" library at Glasgow School of Art has been lost in the fire.

She said: "Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandably devastated. But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact.” Gray added the institution's archives had also been saved.

The Herald: The Mackintosh Library as it was before the 2014 fire (Photograph by Colin Mearns)The Mackintosh Library as it was before the 2014 fire (Photograph by Colin Mearns)

May 26, 2014: Clean-up operation continues

Staff at The GSA start to remove artwork and other items from the fire-damaged Mackintosh building, with The GSA saying the "first priority" was to retrieve archives or collections which needed immediate conservation.

June 18, 2014: Brad Pitt and Peter Capaldi back art school fund

Brad Pitt and Peter Capaldi give their personal support to a fundraising campaign for the restoration of the fire-damaged Mackintosh building.

The Hollywood A-lister and the Doctor Who star sign on to be trustees of The Mackintosh Appeal, which has already attracted support from the Scottish and UK governments. 

The GSA estimates the cost of restoring the iconic building to be between £20m and £35m.

November 26, 2014: Investigators reveal cause of fire

An investigation by The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) into the fire concludes it was caused by flammable gases from a canister of expanding foam.

The report said the gases ignited as they came into contact with the hot surface of a projector in Studio 19 in the north basement, west wing of the Mackintosh Building.

The report said: "Fire was caused when flammable gases (isobutane, propane and dimethyl ether) used as a propellant within a canister of expanding foam was discharged in close proximity to the projector. These flammable gases were drawn into the projector cooling fan."

An improved fire protection system was being installed at the time of the blaze but was not operational, the report added.

The Herald: Firefighters tackling the blaze at Glasgow School of Art in 2014Firefighters tackling the blaze at Glasgow School of Art in 2014

March 12, 2015: Full toll of 2014 fire revealed

The results of the archaeological survey of the Mackintosh Building show that the majority of works on paper, including key works by Mackintosh, survived the fire.

However, around 90 oil paintings, including two by Mackintosh, a handful of works by Francis Newbery and one work by Joan Eardley, were destroyed.

Around 8,000 books and journals in the Mackintosh Library, including part of The GSA's rare book collection, were also destroyed, as well as many of the contents of a key studio and former furniture gallery.

March 16, 2016: Five companies shortlisted for rebuild

Five construction companies are shortlisted for the right to oversee the rebuilding of the Mackintosh Building at GSA. The school has issued an Invitation to Tender to major building firms to lead the reconstruction of the building. The five companies in the running are Balfour Beatty Civil Engineering Ltd, BAM Construction Ltd, John Graham Construction Ltd, Kier Construction and Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd.

March 31, 2016: Architects Page/Park announced as design team to lead restoration

Glasgow-based architects Page\Park Architects are announced as winner of a competition to restore The Mackintosh Building.

April 22, 2016: GSA announces major expansion and building acquisition

The GSA announces it is to undergo a major expansion, buying the Stow College site and revamping the use of its signature Mackintosh Building.

The GSA also launches a £32m fundraising campaign, the Mackintosh Campus Appeal, to raise money to help the school recover from the impact of the 2014 fire, restoring the west wing of the Mackintosh Building, the purchase of the new building and development of studio and workshop space there.

The GSA is expected to complete the purchase of the former Stow College site in the coming weeks.

The Herald: The Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of ArtThe Mackintosh Building at Glasgow School of Art (Image: Colin Mearns/Herald&Times)

June 28, 2016: Company chosen for Mackintosh Building rebuild

Kier Construction is awarded the £25 million contract to manage the restoration of the fire-damaged Mackintosh building.

November 14, 2016: Work starts on new roof

Work gets underway to construct a new roof on the Mackintosh building, after a crane begins lifting steel girders on to the roof.

November 24, 2016: Restoration of Mackintosh Library gets underway

Work begins on the restoration of the Mackintosh Library. Specialist stonemasons begin the process of removing the stone piers between the windows on the west wall of the building, while specialists begin the painstaking job of re-assembling the 600+ fragments of the original lights which were retrieved following the archaeological survey.

Two stone window piers on the west elevation of the building, which were badly damaged by the fire, are also being removed for repair. 

February 1, 2017: Art school’s ashes turned into artworks to help fund rebuild

25 international artists, including David Shrigley, Douglas Gordon and Peter Blake, create artworks from the ashes of the Mackintosh Building to help raise funds for the building’s restoration.

Each of the pieces, covering a range of practices including sculpture, photography, drawing and painting, were created using remains from the fire, from charred timbers and debris to books and furniture.

September 8, 2017: Mackintosh Library restoration advances with life-size prototype

The GSA unveils a full size prototype of a section of the Mackintosh Library returning it to the original 1910 design.

Six months in the making, the prototype has been used to test and retest every aspect of the design and manufacture of the centrepiece of the Mackintosh Building restoration.

Professor Tom Inns, Director of The GSA, said the unveiling of the prototype “marks a hugely significant step in the restoration of the Mackintosh Building” after the 2014 fire.

January 6, 2018: ‘Hen run' latest feature to be restored 

One of the Mackintosh Building’s most distinctive features is brought back to life after the glass-walled, timber-framed ‘hen run’, which connects two parts of the Mackintosh Building and provided generations of young artists with an area of stunning natural light and shade, reconstructed.

Read more:

Glasgow School of Art: students and politicians recall the 2014 fire

Glasgow School of Art's rise to the toast of the art world

Glasgow School of Art: We 'appreciate' concern over future of Mack

June 16, 2018: Firefighters tackle second blaze at Mackintosh Building

The Mackintosh Building is ravaged by fire for the second time in four years.

More than 120 firefighters are called to tackle the blaze just before 11.20pm, with the fire spreading "in the space of a few minutes". 50% of the building was well alight within 38 minutes of the arrival of firefighters.

The blaze spreads to nearby buildings, including the Campus nightclub and O2 ABC music venue. There are no reports of casualties, although residents living nearby are evacuated from their homes.

SFRS operations to damp down and extinguish isolated pockets of fire, continue through to June 25. 

The Herald: Fire rips through Glasgow School of Art in 2018Fire rips through Glasgow School of Art in 2018

June 18, 2018: Work to assess condition of the Mackintosh Building underway

A team of experts enters the site to begin to assess the condition of the Mackintosh Building.

Staff from the School of Simulation and Visualisation at The GSA together with experts from Glasgow City Council, Historic Environment Scotland and specialist structural engineers David Narro Associations were able to get a first proper look at the building. 

A 3D Visualisation, detailed photography and aerial drone footage has been collected which marks the start of a long and complex process.

June 29, 2018: Kier Construction’s contract to restore the Mackintosh Building terminated

The GSA and Kier Construction Limited confirm they have jointly concluded that the current contract for the Mackintosh Building restoration will end with immediate effect. Both parties agreed that the current contract could no longer be fulfilled or completed.

The statement added: “The Glasgow School of Art acknowledges the work Kier Construction and its appointed sub-contractors had undertaken to date.”

July 10, 2018: Art school ‘will be rebuilt’

The GSA director says the Mackintosh building will be rebuilt, as work starts to dismantle parts of the fire-ravaged structure amid debate around the building’s future and the possibility of moving it to another site.

Professor Tom Inns says: “We’re going to rebuild the Mackintosh building. There’s been a huge amount of speculation about what should happen with the site and quite rightly so, but from our point of view and that of the city of Glasgow, it is critically important that the building comes back as the Mackintosh building.”

July 18, 2018: Work to dismantle parts of Mackintosh Building progresses

New pictures show the painstaking work to dismantle parts of the GSA’s Mackintosh Building after it was gutted by a second devastating fire. 

Experts ruled that sections of the renowned building had to be removed on safety grounds.

July 21, 2018: Work underway to stabilise Mackintosh Building

Stabilisation work gets underway at the Mackintosh Building as efforts continue to make the fire-hit art school safe. In the latest update, experts say steel restraints have been installed on the east gable of the Glasgow site, allowing for the replacement of scaffolding.

At the west end of the building, the existing scaffolding on the north facade has been cut away, enabling high-level work including the removal of roof steelwork. Work also begins to make a key area of the ABC O2 building safe so stabilisation of the south facade of the Mackintosh Building can proceed.

September 16, 2018: Rebuild ‘could take up to seven years’

The fire-hit Mackintosh Building will be rebuilt but could take four to seven years to complete, the art school board chairwoman says, adding that the rebuild would follow Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s original designs.

Ms Gray tells The Herald: “We are resolved that the Mackintosh comes back as a working art school, as a major player, a cultural leader for the city and the Scottish economy.”

The Herald: Exterior view of the fire damage at Glasgow School of Art following the fire in 2018 (PA)Exterior view of the fire damage at Glasgow School of Art following the fire in 2018 (PA)

November 12, 2018: GSA board hits back over criticism

Bosses at The GSA hit back after criticism of its ability to look after the Mackintosh Building. The board said the educational institution was “robust” and well-managed. 

They confirmed the building was used for events and tours while under the control of the contractors, but claimed these were subject to strict safety procedures.

June 14, 2019: Blaze probe ‘enters final stages’

Hundreds of tonnes of debris still need to be removed from the Mackintosh Building site one year on as the investigation into the devastating blaze moves into its final phases.

March 8, 2019: MSPs call for public inquiry into fires

A Holyrood Committee report finds that there should be a public inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the two fires in four years that left The GSA badly damaged.

The Scottish Parliament’s Culture Committee publishes its report after taking evidence on the circumstances surrounding the blazes.

READ MORE: Glasgow Art School: Find all the articles in the series here

The report found that in the period up to the 2014 fire, The GSA appears not to have specifically addressed the heightened risk of fire to the Mackintosh building and was not convinced an adequate risk management approach had been taken by the art school with specific regard to the building.

The committee also said it was concerned about the length of time taken for a mist suppression system to be installed in the Mackintosh building and questioned whether more could have been done in the interim period to protect the building.

October 14, 2019: Work to facilitate further SFRS access to the Mackintosh Building begins

Work to remove fire damaged and other material to facilitate further access to the Mackintosh Building begins. 

The work, which will be undertaken by Reigart Contracts Ltd, will see tonnes of fire damaged and other material removed from the full length of the central corridor of the building. It is scheduled to take eight weeks.

The Herald: Debris cleared from within The Mackintosh Building. Photo credit McAteerDebris cleared from within The Mackintosh Building. Photo credit McAteer

February 14, 2020: Further delays to fire inquiry

Investigations into the 2018 fire are hit by further delays, with investigators saying work on the site is expected to take another six months.

February 24, 2020: Major stage of fire investigation work begins

Major work to give the fire service access to the Mackintosh Building begins after a crane arrives on site and work is concentrated at the west end of the building, with fire-damaged material being removed from the site.

September 21, 2021: Muriel Gray steps down as GSA chairwoman

Muriel Gray reveals she is to stand down as chairwoman of The GSA, saying it has been “the greatest honour” to help with governing the institution but that it is time for a “fresh, energetic, and long-term committed person” to take over the role.

October 22, 2021: Mackintosh building to be “faithfully reinstated”

Art school chiefs confirm that the rebuilding of the Mackintosh building as a "faithful reinstatement" of the one destroyed by fire in 2018 is the preferred option for its future.

The GSA say 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 The GSA's academic objectives.

January 25, 2022: Cause of 2018 blaze ‘undetermined’, report finds

Investigators confirm they have been unable to determine what started the fire that swept through the Mackintosh building, causing “catastrophic damage”, in 2018.

The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said that due to the extensive damage at the site and the fact physical evidence was destroyed in the fire it has been unable to establish how the blaze started and recorded the origin and cause as “undetermined”.

Investigators formed three broad hypotheses which were that the blaze may have been caused by wilful fire-raising, fault or failure of electrical appliances or distribution systems, or accidental ignition (not electrical), but did not find enough evidence to support any of the theories despite an “unprecedented and extended investigative process”. However they said that wilful fire-raising and electrical failure cannot be fully discounted, while accidental ignition by something like a cigarette cannot be fully ruled out.

January 24, 2023: First phase of preparation for rebuild completed

Art school bosses say the first phase of physical preparation works for rebuilding the Mackintosh building has been completed.

Following the completion of The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service investigation into the 2018 fire, The GSA carried out a stone by stone evaluation of what in the building could be retained and what should be taken down. More than 5,500 tonnes of fire-damaged material have been removed from the site.

Phase Two of the project, which includes enabling works for the faithful reinstatement of the building – the preferred option identified in the Strategic Outline Business Case (SOBC) in 2021 – is now underway.

The Herald: The first phase of the rebuild was completed at Glasgow School of Art in January last yearThe first phase of the rebuild was completed at Glasgow School of Art in January last year (Image: PA)

March 2022, 2023: Art school scraps search for rebuild chief

The GSA scraps its search for a design team to lead the restoration process of the Mackintosh Building after a “technical error” in the procurement process.

The GSA confirms that the procurement process is being thoroughly reviewed prior to a new invitation to tender being announced in due course.

It prompts Glasgow MSP Paul Sweeney to urge Scottish ministers to directly oversee the project to restore the building amid fears the work is“back to square one”.

June 14, 2023: Restoration reaches ‘milestone’ stage

The project to rebuild the Mackintosh Building reaches a "significant" milestone with the completion of a temporary roof structure.

The school releases an aerial photograph showing a protective white "wrap" on the building, which will remain until the building dries out, allowing the next stage of internal work to progress.

Experts predict the drying-out process will take two years, during which time other aspects of the rebuilding project can progress.