You would think, with Charles Rennie Mackintosh being so revered, especially in Glasgow, that a definitive survey of his architecture would have been made long ago. Wrong! The Mackintosh Architecture project, led by the Hunterian Museum at Glasgow University, will be the first authoritative survey of all known architectural projects by Mackintosh and also, for the period of his professional career in Glasgow (1889 to 1913), of projects by John Honeyman & Keppie (from 1901 Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh). At the moment, the project link leads to sample pages from the resulting catalogue – the whole database goes live in July, and will be accompanied by a major exhibition at the Hunterian.
One of the researchers, Dr Nicky Imrie, recently came to the MmITS AGM to give a talk on her experiences of working on this fascinating project. She discussed the challenges of identifying Mackintosh’s architectural work, how they tackled the process of cataloguing and digitising the diverse sources, and some of the perils faced along the way, such as being accidentally locked into the odd building! The website now has 358 project entries and 2700 images and, although the catalogue is at its heart, it also contains biographies of contractors and clients, essays, a glossary and a map.
As a result, lesser known and under-researched architecture and buildings to which Mackintosh merely made a contribution have been documented. As they were working, researchers gave each a building a “Mack Factor” to indicate Mackintosh’s involvement. These ranged from 1 (beyond doubt) to 4 (executed during his period of employment but with no evidence of his involvement). There were two buildings mentioned which I know well, but which I had no idea had anything to do with Mackintosh.
I have walked past Ayton House in Dowanhill many times. Originally built around 1859, it was damaged in the 1941 blitz and almost demolished in the 1980s. However, a developer took it over and restored it with a decidedly 21st century penthouse. I’ve always been so fascinated by this that I’ve never looked round the side and noticed what Nicky identified as a Mackintosh extension with Mack Factor 1. Since the talk, I have been back to the house to photograph it:
The other building is Jordanhill School. I worked for many years at Jordanhill College / Campus which overlooked what was originally its demonstration school. I’m not sure what its Mack Factor is, as Nicky only mentioned it in passing but, according to Stuart McLean’s Jordanhill Local History site, it was built by Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh after a design competition in 1912, and Mackintosh received £250 as his part in it – though there might have been some dispute about the exact attribution. I took the photograph below when I was documenting the campus before it closed in 2012.
All in all, this was a fascinating talk and I’m really looking forward to the exhibition and website going live so that I can find out more.