Glasgow School of Art, Renfrew St, Glasgow (Gillespie, Kidd and Coia)

Scope and Content

Job files, images and drawings related to project

Administrative / Biographical History

In 1897, Charles Rennie Mackintosh's controversial scheme won the competition for the design of the new Art School in Glasgow. Constructed in 2 phases & completed in 1909, Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art is commonly regarded as a seminal building.

By the 1960s & 1970s GSA had grown and a number of concrete blocks had been sited somewhat unhappily around the original building. These buildings bear little relationship in terms of urban design or detail to Mackintosh's masterpiece.

On a practical level, whilst teaching facilities were generally good, staff & student social areas had been somewhat neglected in the campus expansions since WWII. To redress the balance, GSA's Director, Prof. Anthony Jones, commissioned GKC to design an extension to house new lounge and dining areas for both staff & students as well as an exhibition foyer. The site for the building immediately opposite the entrance to the Mackintosh Art School was on a raised deck between two existing campus buildings & backed by the 8 storey Newbery Tower which houses most of the industrial arts.

GKC's approach was to treat the extension as a pavilion, consciously light & airy in the fashion of gazebo, and address its aesthetic attentions across the street to the Mackintosh facade. Unlike most of the '60s campus buildings there is a dialogue in terms of architectural reference & scale between old and new and across 80 years of design theory.

In detailed respects, the building re-uses architectural motifs developed at Robinson College, Cambridge, particularly the inverted stepped windows. Inside the staff lounge, though the references are more to Mackintosh (particularly the tea room interiors designed for Miss Cranston) and the barrel vault which penetrates the interior on the line of the facade arch, owes its inspiration to the principal bedroom at Hill House in Helensburgh. The use of these historical references both direct & allegorical, made the building particularly rich in terms of design ideas for the students of the Art School.

At this time Andy MacMillan wore two hats; that of GSA lecturer and GKC partner.


The material has been arranged using original Gillespie Kidd and Coia project reference codes.

Access Information

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment.


Catalogued by Tracy Wilkinson, GKC Project Archivist

Conditions Governing Use

Application for permission to quote should be sent to the Glasgow School of Art Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.

Geographical Names