Monday, October 24, 2005

First thoughts on the final paper

Thor Hahn

Theory I

Building selection for final paper

Dr. Carpenter

October 20, 2005

Every architect has a defining project. For Charles Rennie Mackintosh, that project is the Glasgow School of Art. The GSA represents the culmination of his ideas, philosophies, and historical influences throughout the design. The design came about at the height of his architectural career.

It is almost as if the call for designs was tailored to Mackintosh’s strengths and interests. First, it was an art school, which fit in nicely with Mackintosh’s keen interest in the many of the arts. Second, the site was in his native Glasgow, where he seemed to be most comfortable with the contextual and social climate. Third, the program lent itself to artistic diversions and symbolism that other clients might not have appreciated or approved.

The overall form and design of the building is unabashedly Scottish, as it should be. Mackintosh’s nationalistic pride in his native land is reflected in the massing all the way down to the details. As he does with his other works, he rejects the tendency of the day to try and emulate the style coming out of London. Instead, he blends history with his own conceptual framework of architecture and design to synthesize an architecture that honors the historical precedent and context of his forefathers while taking a decidedly forward-looking stance towards the layout and design. He believed that a style should fit the times, and the GSA is evidence of that.

The midterm paper helped me to learn more about Mackintosh and what made him “tick”. I believe that the perspective gained from the more generalized midterm paper will allow me to really explore the design of the GSA in a deeper manner. I know that Mackintosh was very interested in symbolism while still paying attention to function, and from what I have read about the GSA it is hardly an exception to that rule. I’m looking forward to taking a closer look at the design and details of such a strong piece of architecture.


Arwas, Victor. Art Nouveau From Mackintosh to Liberty, the Birth of a Style. Copyright 2000 Andreas Papadakis Publisher, London

Bilcliffe, Roger. Architectural Sketches and Flower Drawings by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, Copyright 1977 Rizzoli, New York

Buchanan, William et al. Mackintosh’s Masterwork: Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow School of Art, Copyright 1989 GSA Enterprises Limited. Published by Chronicle Books, San Francisco

Crawford, Alan. Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Copyright 1995 Thames and Hudson, London

Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh panels Guardian Unlimited – Arts Gallery,8543,-10205152937,00.html . © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Robertson, Pamela. Charles Rennis Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Copyright 1990 University of Glasgow, Glasgow

Wilhide, Elizabeth. The Mackintosh Style: Design and Décor. Copyright 1995 Chronicle Books, San Francisco


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