Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL.], Renfrew Street, Glasgow. Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868-1928). 1896-9. Front (north) elevation. Photograph and text by
Despite or even because of its uphill backstreet setting, this building has achieved iconic status. It recently made news when it was judged the finest building of the last 175 years by RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects), after a poll of both professional and public opinion. Hugh Pearman, editor of the RIBA Journal, explained that it is "rooted in its urban context, and is a total work of art, from concept to fine detail," adding, "the building is superb, has stood the test of time magnificently, and is the deserved winner." The final choice had lain between Mackintosh's design and the Crystal Palace, which tells us much (in case we need to be reminded) about the hugely innovative architecture of the Victorian period. The verdict was no surprise. Writing nearly twenty years ago, the architectural historian James Stevens Curl accounted for something of the School of Art's extraordinary impact when he described its north front as having "certain Art-Nouveau elements judiciously mixed with a tough Scottish native style of building and motifs taken from factories, warehouses and the buildings of the Arts-and-Crafts Domestic Revival" (140).
Other Views and Related Material
Pearman, Hugh. Leader, RIBA Journal, June 2009. Viewed 9 July 2009.
Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Architecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990.
Last modified 9 July 2009