Charles Rennie Mackintosh in Glasgow






After seeing an exhibition on the architecture of Charles Rennie Mackintosh at the Art Institute of Chicago, several years ago, I have wanted to come and see his work in Glasgow. My focus was therefore on his architecture. It was exceptional and well-worth the visit to this Scottish city.

Macintosh predates Frank Lloyd Wright, the famous US architect by 10 years. Supposedly Mackintosh’s work was featured in some publications which Wright may have seen as there are some definite Mackintosh themes in Wright’s work. Both men designed not only public buildings but homes also and some of the furniture pieces as well. As far as Mackintosh’s work, check out:

The Glasgow School of Art: Located at 11 Dalhousie Street, this is one of his great masterpieces. It was built over 100 years ago to house the famous art school which is still functioning today. Make sure to book a tour in advance where you will see his incredible architectural details in the tiles, windows, ironwork outside, light fixtures and stained glass. The library is magnificent and not to be missed!! (Due to a fire in May, 2014, tours have been suspended until restoration has been done.)

They offer architectural tours of the city, also, which unfortunately only operate from Wednesday to Saturday. This would be well worthwhile to do.

Scotland Street School Museum: At 225 Scotland Street, this is a school Mackintosh designed which is interesting to visit. You can see some of the re-created classrooms on a self-guided tour. You can see his tile work, carved stonework and wonderful glass towers and light fixtures.

The Mackintosh Church: Queen’s Cross, 870 Garscube Rd. A short cab ride from downtown this is the only church he built. It was closed on Tuesday when I was there (only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday), but it was good to view the exterior.

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum: At this famous museum on Argyle Street, you can see displays about Mackintosh and other key names in the Glasgow style. Some of his painted frescoes were amazing.

The Lighthouse: Located in his former Glasgow Herald building, at 11 Mitchell Lane, this is now a building with a great contemporary interior housing Scotland’s Centre for Design and Architecture. There is a Mackintosh Centre where you can see drawings, models and some of his great chair designs. Make sure to see the exterior of the building which was Mackintosh’s first public commission.

Daily Record Building: Make sure to walk by Macintosh’s building, at 10-25 Renfield Lane, a short distance from the main train station. He used sculpted sandstone and white glazed bricks to maximize light.

Willow Tea Rooms: I booked my reservation months in advance for tea at the 217 Sauchiehall St. location, just to make sure I had a chance to see this famous Mackintosh building. I was fortunate to be in the deluxe room upstairs with many of his original details, including stained glass. He is known for his tea rooms where he designed the furniture as well. Ask to go upstairs to the room where you can see more of his architectural details and a great fireplace.

Other great examples which I did not see as they were out of town, include the Hill House in Helenburgh, which is part of the National Trust for Scotland.