Barcelona has Gaudí, Chicago has Frank Lloyd Wright and Glasgow has the pioneering Art Nouveau of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
As an architect, designer and artist, Glasgow’s most famous son has left a magnificent legacy of buildings, drawings, designs and motifs stamped upon his home city. Mackintosh designed a range of key city buildings, from educational facilities to tea rooms, from church halls to newspaper headquarters - so where to begin?
His architectural masterpiece, Glasgow School of Art** (closed following a major fire - see below for details), was voted by the Royal Institute of British Architects as the finest building designed by a British architect in the last 175 years.
Early in his career, Mackintosh designed Martyrs’ School, which happens to stand on the same street upon which he was born. You can compare this early design with his last city commission and now popular visitor attraction, Scotland Street School, where you can see the mature architecture’s genius on full display.
As well as schools, he was sought after for church designs, with Ruchill Church, where all of Mackintosh’s original features remain intact more than a century after they were created, and Queen’s Cross Church, which is a remarkable building and a must-see for fans.
For many, it is Mackintosh’s tearooms which he is most well-known for and in Glasgow, you have three to choose from – Mackintosh at the Willow and The Willow Tea Rooms on Buchanan Street and at Watt Brothers – each serving up high tea surrounded by stunningly detailed interiors within culturally historic buildings.
The Lighthouse, Mackintosh’s first public commission, was home to he Glasgow Herald newspaper, before becoming the city’s Centre for Architecture and Design. Here you can visit the ‘Mack’ Centre for inside knowledge into Mackintosh's life, his influence and legacy, before ascending the spiral staircase leading to unparralled panoramic city views. Another former newspaper head office is the Daily Record Building, which is closed to the public but worth seeking out to view unusual details, including a Tree of Life brickwork reaching skywards.
Incredibly, you can view the fully recreated interiors of Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh's family home at Mackintosh House – a meticulously reconstructed version of the private living space of the couple, including the original furniture. Meanwhile, 20 miles outside the city is another of Mackintosh's domestic commissions, Hill House in Helensburgh, which was visited by Mackintosh aficinado, Brad Pitt, whilst he was filming in the city.
Built in 1989 in Bellahouston Park using plans Mackintosh submitted as part of a competition in 1901, House for An Art Lover is a stunning building that includes a suite of rooms, galleries and a café. Meanwhile, the Glasgow Art Club may not be a Mackintosh building but the Grade-A listed clubhouse includes a Mackintosh freize as the centrepiece of their main gallery space and was his first public commission.
**Following a major fire in the Mackintosh Building on the 15 June 2018, The Glasgow School of Art visitor centre, shop and exhibition spaces in the neighbouring Reid building are currently closed to visitors. For upcoming events, lectures and degree shows at The Glasgow School of Art, view their events calendar.**