Glasgow School of Art Mackintosh Building will not be reinstated in the next decade

The project to rebuild one of the city’s architectural gems faces delays amidst a bitter row with insurers.

Work to restore Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s masterpiece at the Glasgow School of Art, which was ravaged by two fires in four years, will not be complete in the next decade. The stark admission comes as work that has been undertaken since 2018 grinds to a halt as legal wrangles take precedence and an arbitration process with their insurers begins.

Costs will now be above the initial £100 million estimate. Professor Penny Macbeth, is in the process of restarting the project - hiring a new set of architects and consultants to devise a new plan for the project, discarding previous targets.

“This bit is taking longer than we thought. It’s difficult for the city. It’s difficult for the residents. We totally appreciate that. We are fully aware that if it takes longer it will cost more,” she told The Times. “The most important thing for everybody, however, is that this is done brilliantly.”

The school submitted an insurance claim after the 2018 fire. A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service report into the second blaze determined that the cause would never be known conclusively.

“Following publication of the report insurers requested further information which the GSA provided to enable them to confirm policy cover,” a spokesman said.

“In the absence of this confirmation the GSA has chosen to initiate arbitration. The arbitration process is subject to a confidentiality provision which means we are not able to disclose any further details”.

Professor Macbeth said: “This process could take a while. It’s taken us quite a bit of thinking over whether to do it, but we feel we need to get clarity. Working with insurers around a fire is a difficult piece of work. It can be frustrating. We need to move the process on.” Should an insurance claim not be approved, the art school would request assistance from the government to secure funding.

A new plan for the building with revised costs will be published in early 2025. Work to date has totalled around £18 million, funded by interim payments from the insurers. An original GSA risk management analysis categorised a delay of more than six months with the project as "catastrophic".

This visual timeline shows the series of disasters that have led the Mackintosh Building to this point.

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