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Blog / Facts about Mackintosh you may not know

Facts about Mackintosh you may not know 07 Jun 2018

We love Charles Rennie Mackintosh here at The Lighthouse! This year, 2018 marks the 150th Anniversary of his birth. To celebrate we’ve updated this blog with more interesting facts about his incredible work and life:

1. Mackintosh was born on 7th June 1868 in Glasgow.

2. Mackintosh designed the tower here at The Lighthouse in 1893 while working as a junior draughtsman in the architectural practice of Honeyman and Keppie, it was completed in 1895.

Lighthouse by ©

3. The tower is 44.5 metres high and visitors can climb the helical staircase up through the tower, leading out to an outdoor Viewing Platform.

4. Despite designing the building, his role could not be publicly acknowledged because he was not a partner:

Letter from Mackintosh to Hermann Muthesius, 11 May 1898 © Werkbundarchiv, Museum der Dinge, Berlin

"Although the building in Mitchell Street here was designed by me the Architects are or were Messrs Honeyman & Keppie – who employ me as assistant. So if you reproduce any photographs of the building you must give the architects' name – not mine. You will see that this is very unfortunate for me, but I hope when brighter days come I shall be able to work for myself entirely and claim my work as mine."

5. The Lighthouse was the first public commission completed by Mackintosh. The building originally housed the Glasgow Herald and Mackintosh designed the tower to hold an 8,000 gallon water tank to protect the building against fire.

6. Mackintosh’s father was the superintendent of the police force in Glasgow, and when the young architect started work with a local architecture firm, his first commission was the creation of a gravestone for Alexander MacCall, chief of police.

7. Mackintosh’s name is actually spelt McIntosh on his birth certificate but was misspelt in the 1890s & the error stuck.

8. Mackintosh rejected traditional green & red tartan, substituting his own stark black & white check - Toshie's Tartan.

9. Mackintosh suffered from poor health as a child and walked with a limp.  As a result, he was encouraged to spend time outdoors in the countryside to improve his health.  This is where his love of nature originated which later manifested itself in his work.

10. Mackintosh’s designs were more appreciated in Austria and Germany than in the UK. He exhibited his architectural designs in Moscow and Berlin and was asked to design the Warndorfer Music Room in Vienna.

11. The only house in England designed by Mackintosh is 78 Derngate.

78 Derngate, Northampton: design for the entrance door c.1916 © The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, University of Glasgow 2016

12. Mackintosh furniture has appeared in a number of Movies including Inception, The Addams Family, American Psycho and Blade Runner - where the inclusion of his famous 'Argyle' chair provides a hidden meaning to the life of one of the film's central characters.

13. Mackintosh was suspected of being a German spy during  WWI source:

14. In 1896, Mackintosh won the competition to design the Glasgow School of Art. The first phase of the building commenced in 1897 and the second phase was completed in 1909. 

Source: The List

15. RIBA recognised Glasgow School of Art as the finest building designed by a British architect in the last 175 years.

16. 200 firefighters battled on the night of Friday 23 May 2014 to contain the blaze at Glasgow School of Art. The building is currently being restored to Mackintosh designs.

17. Mackintosh only designed one church throughout his career, the Mackintosh Church at Queen's Cross. He submitted a design for Liverpool Cathedral in 1903 but it was not chosen.

18. The Willow Tearoom was the only building where Mackintosh had complete control over every aspect of the design.

19. Design plans for House for an Art Lover were created by Mackintosh in 1901 but not built until 1988 by Glasgow City Council.

Mackintosh's House for an Art Lover South elevation drawing - Building the Dream - Graham Roxburgh 2006

20. Mackintosh was considered 'Gaudi of Glasgow' comparing his popularity & talent to architect Antoni Gaudi of Barcelona.

21. Charles Rennie Mackintosh was featured on £20 Clydesdale Bank note in 1999.

22. Barbra Streisand designed some of her home based on the Mackintosh style.

Source: The Home Look Blogspot

23. The largest collection of Mackintosh work is at the Hunterian Art Gallery in Glasgow and it houses one of the most important collections of the work of  Mackintosh - The Mackintosh House, which is a meticulous reassemblage of the principal interiors from the Mackintoshes’ Glasgow home.

Source: University of Glasgow, The Hunterian

24. Scotland Street School Museum (1903-1906) was one of Mackintosh's last commissions in Glasgow.

25. The Willow Tea Rooms name derived from Sauchiehall, which in Scottish Gaelic means alley of the willows.

26. Mackintosh and his wife, along with another couple, formed "The Four," a collaborative architecture group that was also known as "The Spook School".

27. Stereo, one of Glasgow's cool live music bars is housed in a Mackintosh Building. 

28. Mackintosh was engaged to Jessie Keppie, the youngest sister of the boss of his firm, but called off the engagement after falling in love with fellow artist Margaret MacDonald.

29. He married Margaret MacDonald in 1900, the metal gates at the entrance to The Lighthouse reveal Margaret's face when placed in front of each other. Individual plant and pollen shapes are visible when the panels are extended.  The gates were made by Andy Scott of Scott Associates.

30. Mackintosh died in London on 10th December 1928 from throat & mouth cancer.

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