I don’t have a Mackintosh font to post this on the disastrous fire at the Glasgow School of Art. The news media are consoling us with the comment that 90% of the structure has been ‘saved’; but that seems to mean only the stonework. However, the building’s crowning glory is/was its Library, which has been entirely burnt out – not surprising, since the interior and fittings were largely in timber. But unforgiveable, in this age of fire precautions, sprinklers, alarms; how could it have been allowed to happen from an initial blaze in the basement? Listed buildings need more protection, not less.
All the elements of Mackintosh’s designs have been so well studied, measured, drawn and photographed that the GSA interiors can no doubt be reproduced, as is already being declared. But even if the spaces are replicated, impossible to get that wonderful patina of a century’s use, that feel and atmosphere of a long-term working library. Perhaps one shouldn’t care so much about buildings, but this one was truly special.