Glasgow & West Scotland

Robbie Coltrane opens new Glasgow School of Art building

Robbie Coltrane and Muriel Gray at GSA Image copyright PA
Image caption Robbie Coltrane and Muriel Gray are both former students at the School of Art

Robbie Coltrane has opened the Glasgow School of Art's (GSA) new £30m building, with the former student describing it as "awesome".

The Reid Building will house the GSA's design school, refectory, workshops and new visitor centre.

The building, designed by US architect Steven Holl, is named after GSA's first female director Dame Seona Reid.

More than 2,000 staff and students attended the ceremony which featured bagpipes, balloons and a choir.

The new building, part of a £50m project funded by the Scottish Funding Council, replaces the former Foulis Building and Newbery Tower on Renfrew Street.

It sits opposite the GSA's iconic main building, designed by internationally-renowned architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

The School of Art building, completed in 1909, is widely regarded as his finest work.

'New generation'

A packed opening ceremony featured bagpipes, balloons and confetti, and ended with a choir performance of a specially-commissioned work by Scots makar Liz Lochhead.

The poet, like Coltrane, studied painting at the GSA. The Bafta award-winning actor said working at the Mackintosh building made him raise his game and he hoped the "glorious" new building would encourage a new generation of artists.

Image copyright GSA
Image caption The new building was designed by Steven Holl architects
Image caption More than 2,000 staff and students attended a packed opening event

He said: "The two words 'honoured' and 'awesome' are over-used. However, on this occasion both expressions are absolutely perfect.

"You walk into this building and you are overcome by a sense of awe."

The Rutherglen-born star said his own creative output was now almost exclusively limited to the screen.

He said: "I don't do much drawing, my painting you'd be embarrassed to see, but I do make movies and I've written a few books."

Holding on to a walking cane due to a sore leg, Coltrane said: "The promise of pole dancing is not going to happen."

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Media captionRobbie Coltrane and Muriel Gray relive their memories of the art school

Fellow actor Peter Capaldi is among the alumni of GSA, which has turned out numerous names of note in the world of art, literature and music including Lanark author Alasdair Gray, photographer Harry Benson and artist Peter Howson.

The 2011 Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce was a student and designed the steel and glass artwork at the entrance to the new building.

A specially created Rube Goldberg machine - a contraption named after the Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist and inventor who created outlandishly complicated mechanisms to perform relatively simple tasks - was also unveiled.

Image caption Elaborate windows are a key feature of the new building and reference the work of Rennie Mackintosh

GSA director Tom Inns said: "Today is a great celebration. This new building will enable the GSA to offer the highest quality studio-based teaching and learning to generations of students."

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: "This magnificent new building, part of the project made possible by £50m from the Scottish Funding Council, will offer an excellent learning environment for hundreds of students.

"It represents a significant investment in the future of higher education."

Work began to demolish the GSA's Newbery Tower and Foulis Building in 2011 and students moved into the new Reid Building in January this year.

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