Edinburgh College of Art

Edinburgh College of Art
©2023 Gazetteer for Scotland

Edinburgh College of Art

Edinburgh College of Art is one of the oldest and largest art colleges in Europe. It teaches some 2000 students and occupies three sites in the city at Lauriston Place, the Grassmarket and Inverleith. The College can trace its history back to 1760 and the foundation of the Trustees' Drawing Academy in Edinburgh by the Board of Trustees for Fisheries, Manufactures and Improvements in Scotland (known as the Board of Manufactures). The Trustees' Drawing Academy gained a fine reputation under Masters such as Robert Scott Lauder (1803-69) and John Ballantyne (1815-97).

The modern college was founded in 1906 and in the same year the city authorities began new purpose-built premises in Lauriston Place. The original red sandstone building, which opened in 1909, is in the Edwardian Beaux-Arts style by architects J. M. Dick Peddie (1853 - 1921) and George Washington Browne (1853 - 1939). The stone comes from Closeburn and Locharbriggs quarries in Dumfriesshire. A later concrete block forming the Architecture Building dates from 1961 and was designed by the College's own Professor of Architecture, Ralph Cowan. The Hunter Building, which forms the frontage on Lauriston Place, dates from 1972 and is also faced in red Locharbriggs sandstone. In 1963, the College obtained property next to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Inverleith Place, which today houses a School for Drawing, Painting and Sculpture. Further premises were acquired in the Grassmarket and West Port in 1993.

In 1968 the College established a formal link with Heriot-Watt University, which validated the College's degrees and ran its Faculties of Environmental Studies and Art & Design jointly with the College. Courses in fine art and housing were offered in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh. In 2004, the College formed a strategic partnership with the University of Edinburgh which took over the validation of degrees. The two institutions worked closely together, including establishing a joint School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, culminating in a formal merger in 2011. The University's former School of Arts, Culture and Environment moved to within an expanded College, now including music, architecture and the history of art. This now hosts a professorship, which was the first chair in art history in the UK, established by the University of Edinburgh in 1879 in memory of Sir John Watson Gordon (1788 - 1864).

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