What next for the Glasgow School of Art?

Letters
Aerial view of the smoldering ruins of the Glasgow School of Art. ‘If the Germans and Poles can reconstruct their destroyed iconic buildings, surely we can,’ writes Louis Hellman. Photograph: HO/AFP/Getty Images

The Glasgow School of Art should be reconstructed as it was (Editorial, 20 June). Mackintosh did not, after all, physically build it himself – his genius resides in the design and a faithful rebuild is no less a Mackintosh building than the original. Unrealised buildings by Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright have been constructed long after their deaths from original plans. The only difference is that Mackintosh’s art school had a previous existence. If there is an opportunity to return this marvellous building to three-dimensional life, so it can be physically experienced by future generations rather than only surviving as plans and photos, it should be taken.
Ian Simmon
Monkseaton, Tyne and Wear

• I agree with Ian Jack (Brick by brick, Glasgow must recreate its lost masterpiece, 23 June). Glasgow without its art school would be like London without St Paul’s. In addition to the massive negative impact on students and Glaswegians, its absence would dismay the many visitors to the city who come to wonder at Mackintosh’s masterpiece.

In the 1990s, Glasgow built the much-admired House for an Art Lover based on Mackintosh’s designs but never tackled in his lifetime. So there is a precedent and, if a new art school rose from the ashes in sympathy with the original specifications and put to the same use, it is highly unlikely to be dismissed as a fake “Mockintosh” replica.
Mike Pender
Cardiff

• While staying in Glasgow for a family wedding last weekend, like Ian Jack I too had thought that rebuilding the School of Art to the original spec again was the best way forward for Glasgow until I spoke with a Glaswegian cab driver. “It’s a shame but look around you. How come they find millions for art so easily – every time – when there’s no money for addressing the increasing numbers of homeless people? Let’s build a cheaper school and help the more vulnerable people of Glasgow at the same time. A joint venture to celebrate an inclusive Glasgow.” I changed my mind.
Emily Matheson
West Wickham, Kent

• Architect Alan Dunlop and others (Report, 19 June) say Mackintosh would have wanted a new school fit for the 21st century. But we have an example of this in the new modern art school building by a top architect opposite the Mackintosh: bland, boring and out of keeping with the character of Glasgow. If the Germans and Poles can reconstruct their destroyed iconic buildings, surely we can. The restoration of Windsor Castle after the 1992 fire cost £36m, mostly paid for indirectly by the public.
Louis Hellman
London

• I disagree with Ian Jack’s opinion that Charles Rennie Mackintosh was influenced by the Viennese Secessionists. Indeed, Mackintosh’s influence was a combination of Japanese and Arts and Crafts styles, and in 1900 the Secessionists, aware of his pioneering and progressive style, invited him to design and exhibit an entire room at their Eighth exhibition. So if anything, Mackintosh influenced the Secessionists rather than the other way round.
Dr Allan Dodds
Nottingham

• Ian Jack’s excellent article rightly calls for Mackintosh’s masterpiece to be rebuilt exactly as it was. The decision to rebuild needs to be taken now, even as the causes of the fire are investigated. It will, no doubt, take a decade or more and the cost will be great. How should it be funded? As Gavin Stamp argued four years ago, the School of Art (where he taught) has shown itself unworthy to be the custodian of this great building. A Mackintosh Foundation should be established to raise the funds needed – Mackintosh was an architect of global significance and the appeal for funds should be global. Public money should not be required. The foundation should then own and run the building as a national monument, a centre for architectural studies and a symbol of Glasgow’s determination to protect its remarkable artistic heritage.
Kenneth Powell
London

• Join the debate – email guardian.letters@theguardian.com

• Read more Guardian letters – click here to visit gu.com/letters