It is both rare and difficult to erect a new building next to a
much-admired, well-known and beloved masterpiece.
Ever since Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed and built the Glasgow School of Art some one hundred years ago, it has never ceased to amaze and attract visitors. Not that it was received with universal acclaim, far from it.
The truly new and original is bound to raise an eyebrow and to provoke outrage and dismay. What was true of Mackintosh then, mutatis mutandis, is true of Holl now. Holl’s restraint and respect for the old edifice is already taken as a sign of weakness, of lack of beauty. On the contrary, one of the major virtues of the new building is that it shows tremendous respect for the grand old dame opposite. As if the young man who is invited to a dance with an old venerable dancer does everything in his power not to overwhelm her with his...