GSA Board of Governors and Chair defend their management of the Mackintosh building

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Credit: Geograph / Thomas Nugent

John Weingarten
Reporter

The GSA board has denied claims of systemic management failure in the handling of the Mackintosh building in documents released before a parliamentary evidence session. During the session, Muriel Gray, chair of the Glasgow School of Art, asserted that the art school’s administration of the Mackintosh building before the June fire was “exemplary”.

The written document responded to a plethora of criticisms. In response to the claim that fire safety was not properly handled in wake of the 2014 fire, the board wrote that there was no system “suitable for a building of the scale and complexity of the Mackintosh Building that could have been installed during the construction period.”

The board also rebuked accusations of a lack of transparency following the most recent fire stating that: “there has been no intention to exclude people who want to know what has happened or what happens next”. Moreover, the statement says the tours and events hosted in the building before the 2018 blaze were limited in scope and followed all necessary safety procedures.

In a Holyrood committee evidence session after the release of the documents, GSA Chairwoman Muriel Gray faced MSP’s questions. She expressed regret over the experience of the local residents and their perception of a failure of communications in the wake of the fire. Gray added: “I have massive regrets that we have suffered two major disasters in fact, I would say more than regretful, it has broken my heart.”

MSP Sandra White of the Kelvin constituency pushed back against Gray’s words of support for the surrounding community, stating “I cannot accept that a trust that is paid for by public money is not consulting with local residents.”

Investigations into the origin of the fire are ongoing. The Holyrood committee also heard on Thursday that Police Scotland has 70 more interviews to conduct, meanwhile, reconstruction of the historic Mackintosh building is estimated to take 7 years at a price tag of £100m.