Overview

Elected ARSA: 19 March 1980

Elected RSA: 15 February 1995

In many ways Graham Law belonged to an older and more serious generation. His couteous manner, his care and interest in other people (especially those in the field of architecture and the arts) will ensure that they will remember his tall, somewhat gangly figure as one of the most distinguished gentlemen in his profession. He never failed to help others, even when it was of great inconvenience to him.

 

Following his education at Glasgow Academy and Merchiston Castle School, he served in the Royal Engineers during the Second World War, spending some time in India. On the completion of his service he took a first class degree in architecture at Kings College, Cambridge. 

 

After some time in London, he returned to Scotland to work in Sir Robert Matthew's office, where he met James Dunbar-Naismith and later set up the practice of Law & Dunbar-Naismith in 1957. The practice carried a wide variety of work, country houses, historic buildings, social housing, churches and schools. Graham built up a particular expertise in exhibition design, which many will remember in the Edinburgh Festival Exhibitions, such as Epstein, Barbara, Hepworth, Indian Art and Dance and Treasures from Scottish Country Houses, Graham became widely known for the design of Eden Court Theatre in Inverness and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, for which he was responsible and both of which recieved RIBA Awards.

 

Although he had a wide knowledge of the historical and present day arts and music, he did not allow his work to become in any way overwhelmed by this knowledge, and his buildings were a delight in visual richness without being encumbered by historic or earlier styles and sources. Towards the end of work, which included the Royal Scottish Museum and the Scottish Law Courts as well as many other outstanding public buildings in Edinburgh. 

 

He represented his profession with characteristic diligence. He was a Council Member of the Edinburgh Architectural Association and of the RIAS Council, and served for a number of years on Architects Registration Council of the United Kingdom and on its professional purposes committee. He was Chairman of the Workshop and Artists Studio Provision (Scotland) (Wasps) from 1977-81. 

 

Graham was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1980, and in 1995 was elected an Academician. His architectural work was regularly hung in the Royal Scottish Academy Annual Exhibition, along with drawings and watercolour which illustrated his wide variety of taste and observation. His diploma work, which is held in the RSA Collection, is of Pitlochry Festival Theatre. In his capacuty as representative of the RSA on the National Trust for Scotland, he was instrumental in persuading the National Trust to preserve Holmwood House, one of Greek Thomson's architectural gems. 

 

We will miss his modest and witty friendship, and his contributions to the debates in the RSA. 

 

He is survived by Isobel Drysdale, to whom he was most happily married for 44 years, and one son and three daughters. 

RSA Obituary by James S Morris RSA. Transcribed from the 1996 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

Graham Couper Law RSA (1923-96), Proposed Festival Theatre, Pitlochry

pencil and wash on paper, around 1978, 40.7 x 57.8cm

RSA Diploma Collection (Deposited, 1995) 1995.139