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Robert Adam


1728 - 1792

Robert Adam
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Robert Adam

Architect. Born in Kirkcaldy, and educated at the High School and University in Edinburgh, Adam became an enormously successful and influential architect. He began by joining his father William (1689 - 1748) and elder brother John (1721 - 92) in the family architecture business. He left to study the neo-classical architecture of Italy during a 'Grand Tour' of Europe (1754-8). On his return to Britain, Robert set up his own practice in London and was joined in this venture by his younger brother James (1732 - 94) who had completed his own European tour in 1763. Robert was appointed Architect of the King's Works between 1761 and 1769.

Culzean Castle (South Ayrshire) is regarded as one of Robert's most important works. He is also noted for his elegant terraces in the New Town of Edinburgh, together with many fine public buildings, including Register House in Charlotte Square and the Old College of the University of Edinburgh, which was incomplete on his death and finished by William Playfair (1789 - 1857).

Robert Adam was also responsible for much Georgian development in London, including the layout of Portland Place, Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath and Lansdowne House, together with a significant number of country seats throughout Britain.

Adam served as Member of Parliament for Kinross-shire between 1768 and 1774. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1761 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1788.

He is buried in the south transept of Westminster Abbey in London.


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