British officials pledge to restore fire-damaged art school

The front (north) facade of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street, Garnethill in Glasgow, Scotland. Taken by Finlay McWalter on May 7, 2004. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The front (north) facade of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street, Garnethill in Glasgow, Scotland. Taken by Finlay McWalter on May 7, 2004. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

GLASGOW, Scotland (AFP) – Firefighters said Saturday they had managed to save 90 percent of the world-renowned Glasgow School of Art designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, after a blaze tore through it.

Despite initial fears that the building had been destroyed in the fire on Friday, most of the building was saved and 70 percent of its contents were protected, fire chiefs said.

The British government has pledged to help meet the cost of restoring one of Scotland’s most cherished buildings.

All students and staff were safely evacuated from the century-old building, officials said, after the fire sent smoke and flames billowing out of the windows.

Several students were in tears as the fire raged through the building.

Smoke was still rising from the building on Saturday.

The fire was started by a projector which exploded in the basement, according to eyewitnesses cited by the BBC.

The Royal Institute of British Architects described the damage as “an international tragedy.”

Around 20,000 visitors from around the world visit the Mackintosh building each year, according to the school’s website.

Speaking in Glasgow, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said: “It’s a hugely important building not just for Glasgow and Scotland but for the whole of the United Kingdom.

“I can tell you that the UK Government will be willing to make a significant financial contribution towards the cost of rebuilding.”

He said the contribution could run into the “millions.”

Glasgow-born architect and designer Mackintosh (1868-1928) was a leading exponent of Art Nouveau and his distinctive lines and style of lettering remain influential today.

He won a competition to design the building in 1897 and it took around a decade to complete.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


The front (north) facade of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street, Garnethill in Glasgow, Scotland. Taken by Finlay McWalter on May 7, 2004. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The front (north) facade of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Glasgow School of Art on Renfrew Street, Garnethill in Glasgow, Scotland. Taken by Finlay McWalter on May 7, 2004. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.