Work to dismantle sections of the fire-damaged Mackintosh Building began yesterday, 10 July 2018, as Glasgow School of Art director Tom Inns confirmed that the building will be rebuilt and returned to its original use.

Speaking to The Guardian, Inns said: “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.”

Inns also confirmed that it was hoped that the cost of the rebuild would be covered by insurance. “The building is insured and we’re confident that we can rebuild the building based on that,” he said.

Glasgow School of Art’s Mackintosh building was gutted by a fire that ripped through the building on 15 June. The current dismantling work has been devised by expert structural engineers, Glasgow-based David Narro Associates, and is being carried out by the Coatbridge-based contractor Reigart.

Dominic Echlin of David Narro Associates said: “The primary aim of the initial works is to make the building safe and structurally stable. It is important to understand that our agreed approach is the safest way to dismantle the dangerous elements of the building and, importantly, ensure there is no damage to nearby properties or risk to those working on site.”

He added that the work will initially “reduce the height of the high level walls on the south side of the building, carefully taking down damaged and unstable masonry. With the machinery brought to site the contractor can work on several ‘fronts’, so after a start today [10 July] in the middle of the south façade, we will quickly move on to reducing height to the top parts of the south-east corner and east façade.

“Work will then follow on the west end and then parts of north façade. This sequence has been determined so we keep the building as stable as possible and the dismantling controlled throughout the process.”

Masonry is being dismantled manually and the building is being accessed by a combination of mobile elevated working platforms and crane hoists. The main crane is positioned in Sauchiehall Street at the junction with Dalhousie Street and it is hoped to position a second crane at the junction of Sauchiehall Street and Scott Street. Three further cranes will be used for the work.

A statement from Glasgow School of Art on the dismantling work said: “Masonry and brickwork will need to be dismantled in a controlled manner, brick by brick, block by block, with heavier high level stonework removed and transferred via hoists which will then be lowered down to street level for sorting and storage off site.

“Where possible and safer to do so, plainer areas of facades will be lowered into the site for later removal.  This permits the work to proceed swiftly and with minimum danger to surrounding properties. Protection will be provided to adjoining properties as necessary during the down taking elements of the work.”

The work is expected to take “several weeks”. As each phase is completed, the building will be assessed by Glasgow City Council Building Standards who will decide whether the current safety cordon around the building can be reduced.

1. Mackintosh Building, Glasgow School of Art, after 15 June 2018 fire. Photo: Police Scotland via @polscotair
2. Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh and Reid Buildings, photographed 15 April 2015, prior to first fire. Photo: McAteer Photograph.
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