Andrew Macmillan
OBE RSA

  • Born : 1928
  • Died : 2014
  • Associate Elected : 16/03/1977
  • Academician Elected : 21/02/1990

BIOGRAPHY

  • Born : 1928
  • Died : 2014
  • Associate Elected : 16/03/1977
  • Academician Elected : 21/02/1990

Andrew MacMillan OBE RSA (1928 – 2014) was born in Glasgow in 1928. At North Kelvinside Secondary School, MacMillan proved an able all-rounder and was entered for the “corporation exam” for an apprenticeship with Glasgow Corporation (now Glasgow City Council). He passed, and was interviewed by the chief architect and the chief surveyor.

During his apprenticeship he took evening classes at Glasgow School of Art, where he met Isi Metzstein, then working as an apprentice at Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, one of Britain’s most respected architectural practices.

MacMillan worked for the corporation for seven years, and by the age of 20 was running his own projects. He then spent two years with East Kilbride new town, but became increasingly frustrated by local government bureaucracy. In 1954, when Metzstein mentioned that there was a vacancy at Gillespie, Kidd and Coia, MacMillan jumped at the chance.

Like many young architects of their generation, MacMillan and Metzstein were passionate converts to Modernism; and from 1957, when they effectively assumed creative control of the practice’s output, they began to produce an extraordinary string of Modernist buildings.

Their first project, St Paul’s, Glenrothes, completed in 1957, was described as “the first modern church in Britain”. They went on to build 17 churches and chapels throughout central Scotland, following in the wake of new town development and urban housing schemes, culminating with the completion of the church of St Columba in East Kilbride in 1979. There were also the college buildings in Oxford and Cambridge, schools in Glasgow and Cumbernauld, and a maternity hospital in Bellshill.

St Peter’s Seminary, a three-storey concrete ziggurat on the banks of the Clyde, inspired by Corbusier’s chapel at Ronchamp and his monastery at La Tourette, was considered their masterpiece. Completed in 1966, it was designed with a sympathetic understanding of the ritualised nature of seminary life. The seminary won acclaim even from such traditionalist journals as Country Life for its design and fine workmanship – the interiors were panelled in solid wood, echoing the style of Charles Rennie Macintosh. It was voted Scotland’s best modern building by the architecture magazine Prospect, and in 1967 it won Gillespie, Kidd & Coia an award from RIBA. It was also one of only 42 post-war buildings in Scotland to be Grade-A listed.

MacMillan became a partner of the firm in 1966 and served as Professor of Architecture at Glasgow University and head of the Mackintosh School of Architecture from 1973 to 1994. His teaching at the school (with Metzstein) was credited with making it one of the best architectural training establishments in the world.

In his later years MacMillan served on architectural judging panels, was a government adviser and vice-president of the Glasgow School of Art. He was a member of the Scottish Arts Council from 1978 to 1982, and a member of the panel that chose Enric Miralles’s design for the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

Among many awards, MacMillan won the RIBA Award for Architecture on four occasions and the Royal Scottish Academy Gold Medal in 1975. He was elected to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1977 and appointed OBE in 1992.