Monday, June 25, 2018

Hope And Wait


http://www.theguardian.com; June 16, 2018


Hello Everyone:

Welcome to a fresh week on the blog.  Over the weekend, the Internet loudly stated it does really care about the forced separation of parents and children at the American southwestern border.  After signing an executive order, the president--staying true to form--immediately regretted his action.  In a head snapping tweet on Sunday, the president demanded that the migrants be repatriated immediately, without due process; i.e. No hearing before a judge, regardless of the legitimacy of asylum claim.  Meanwhile, the adminstration says it has a plan to reunify parents and children. Why does Blogger think it involves money for a border wall?  Regardless of where you stand on the issue of immigration, you have to admit this is turning into a yuge public relations nightmare for the administration. Speaking of nightmares, shall we take a look at the Glasgow School of Art?

Historic preservationists and lovers of historic architecture often speak of building in human terms.  Buildings are like members of the family.  We get emotional over them.  When a building is lost, we mourn them. When a building is threatened, we go to whatever lengths to protect and save them. This is very true when it comes to the Glasgow School of Art.

Once again, the historic Glasgow School of Art was gutted by fire.  The fire began on June 15 at about 11:15pm Greenwich Mean Time and spread to the O2 ABC music venue.  Restoration of Charles Rennie Mackintosh building was nearly finished following a smaller fire in 2014.  The fire appeared to have destroyed the roof and upper floors, preventing firefighters from entering the building because of fear the walls might collapse (the guardian.com; June 16, 2018; date accessed June 25, 2018).

By now, the fire has been extinguished and the big question is can this building be saved?  This is the subject Libby Brooks and Severin Carrell look at in their The Guardian article "Glasgow School of Art may be beyond repair after second fire."  The co-authors report, "Initial inspections suggested that the A grade-listed art school, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh and completed in 1909, has been gutted and its roof and upper floors almost entirely destroyed by the blaze...."  Glasgow-based architect and academic Alan Dunlop, sounding a pessimistic tone, told The Guardian:

I can't see any restoration possible for the building itself.  It looks totally destroyed.

Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon pledged that her government would do anything we reasonably can to ensure the future of the historic structure.  Ms. Sturgeon carefully added:

Obviously all of us hope the building can be saved but I think it's too early to draw conclusions.

After touring the burnt out remains, Ms Sturgeon confirmed that current blaze did far more damage than the previous blaze (Ibid; May 23, 2014) She told The Guardian:

It is just a shell,.... It has clearly been a fire of much greater intensity than the one that took hold four years ago.

Iain Bushell, deputy chief officer with the Scottish fire and rescue service sounded a more cautious note:

The roof is gone completely.  We cannot get in yet to assess the damage. I can only see from the street but it looks as if the building has been extensively damaged.  

Fire investigator have already began to sift through the rubble in order to determine the cause if the blaze.  However, forensic teams have not had access to the building.

The news of the devastating fire spread quickly, around the world, and was greeted by shock and disbelief.  Perhaps what was most puzzling was how rapidly it grew in intensity the fire and how fast spread to the O2 ABC music venue and Campus nightclub, which also suffered extensive damage. 

Over 120 firefighters were summoned to the scene pumped water from the River Clyde in order to put out the fire.  

The 2014 fire was the result of gases from a student project foam canister accidentally ignited causing significant damage and restoration work was still in progress.  However this fire was more intense, "with nearby residents saying the heat could be felt several streets away."  Chunks of fiery debris fell on the surrounding streets.  Police evacuated 27 people, and, thankfully, no reports of injury.  

Alan Dunlop told reporters " that was devastated by what he had seen of the damage."  He said,

The building does look as though it had been gutted.  All that remain is the stone walls.

However, additional damage to the stonework raise questions about the structural viability of building.  After the 2014 fire, some stone cracked and was too weak to reuse.  

Stuart Robertson, director of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, told The Guardian,

It's just such a devastation for all the people working on the project and the who,e Mackintosh community.  You can see that from the reaction on social media, it's ricocheted round the world.

Scottish National Party MP for Glasgow Central Alison Thewliss echoed the sentiment, calling the events of the evening "as heartbreaking in a building the city holds very dear."

A week-and-half after the fire is still too soon to tell if the Glasgow School of Art can be saved or if it has to be demolished. Truthfully, it would be a real loss if Scottish officials decided to raze the building, especially if there is nothing to replace it. However, what could replace it?  Blogger is not suggesting that the Glasgow School of Art be replaced in the exact same 1909 manner.  Impossible. Perhaps, once investigators finish their work, architects and school officials can sit down to figure if anything can be done.  The Glasgow School of Art is such an integral part of the city and global culture that demolishing it would be a profound loss.  Replacing it with some steel and glass aberration would genuinely be an insult to the memory of the building and Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  Therefore, to answer the question can the Glasgow School of Art be saved?  To borrow the words of the 19th-century French writer Alexandre Dumas' great character the Count of Monte Cristo, hope and wait.