Located on Renfrew Street, in the Garnethill district of the city, the Glasgow School of Art was established in 1845 as a Government School of Design, run by the Department of Science and Art in London. It is the second-oldest design school in Britain. In 1901, control was transferred to the Scottish Office. Today the School caters for some 1500 students and is funded as a 'central institution' by the Scottish Executive, through the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council (SHEFC). Academically divided into three schools - the Mackintosh School of Architecture, the School of Fine Art and the School of Design and Craft, degrees are validated by the University of Glasgow.
New buildings were commissioned by the School's Head, Fra Newbery (1855 - 1946), with strict architectural and financial constraints. Charles Rennie Mackintosh's design met these criteria and work started on the eastern phase of the building in 1897 and was completed in 1899, whilst the western phase was begun in 1907 and finished two years later. The building has many of the characteristics for which Mackintosh has become famous and is regarded as a prime example of his work. Sitting on one of Glasgow's drumlins, the Mackintosh Building has a very prominent position in the city.