In 1896, the city firm of Honeyman and Keppie submitted a design from one of their junior draughtsmen, Charles Rennie Mackintosh for the contest.
The first half of the building was completed in 1899 and the second half 10 years later.
More than a century after it opened, Mackintosh's School of Art remained a functional working building.
It is increasingly seen as an important architectural monument in its own right and is a listed building.
With increasing interest in Mackintosh and Glasgow, the School of Art - which is recognised as one of the architect's masterpieces - is visited by more than 20,000 people a year.
It is home to an extensive range of furniture and fittings, watercolours and architectural drawings by the architect who gave it his name. The school also owns a substantial collection of work by former staff and students and a large archive.
It has produced most of Scotland's leading contemporary artists and, since 2005, almost a third of Turner Prize nominees.
Since 2009, a rolling programme of work has been carried out to upgrade the historic building.
Stuart Robertson, director of the Mackintosh Society, was on a tour of Mackintosh buildings when he heard news of the fire.
He said: "My reaction was shock and horror.
"The building is unique and the Royal Incorporation of British architects voted it the best designed building by a British architect in 170 years.
"The building is priceless and there are a lot of valuable items in the library area, which is one of Mackintosh's works of art."