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Sir Robert Matthew


1906 - 1975

Architect. Brought up in Edinburgh, the son of John Matthew who was the partner of Sir Robert Lorimer (1864 - 1929) and had built several buildings for the University of Edinburgh on its King's Buildings campus. The young Matthew was educated at Edinburgh College of Art and was apprenticed with his father's firm in the 1930s. In 1936. Matthew joined the Department of Health (Scotland), where he rose to become their Chief Architect by 1945. In 1946, he was appointed Architect to London County Council, but returned to Edinburgh to become the first Professor of Architecture at the University (1953 - 1968). He established a new Department with an innovative curriculum and was also responsible for advising the University on the redevelopment of George Square, together with designing some of the buildings (for example, the David Hume Tower).

He established the architectural practice of Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall (RMJM), with Sirrat Johnson-Marshall, in Edinburgh and London in 1956. The company now operates internationally and was for a time the largest architectural practice in the UK. The company has recently been involved in projects such as the Scottish Executive offices at Victoria Quay in Leith (1995), the Millennium Wheel, between the Union and Forth and Clyde Canals, (2002) and the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood (2003). However, commercial difficulties brought the closure of the company's Edinburgh office in 2013, consolidating operations in Glasgow and London.

Matthew made his mark in social architecture through the design of public buildings, particularly for health and education. He is perhaps best known as the designer of London's Festival Hall and of Pakistan's new capital of Islamabad. He served as President of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the International Union of Architects and the Commonwealth Association of Architects. Awarded an OBE in 1952, Matthew was knighted in 1962. He died at his country seat, Keith Marischal, in East Lothian.


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