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Gillespie, Kidd & Coia: Architecture 1956-1987
November 2, 2007 9:16 AM   Subscribe

Gillespie, Kidd & Coia: Architecture 1956-1987

The firm of Gillespie Kidd & Coia were regarded as the most significant architects of 20th century Scotland. Through their building programme for the Catholic Church, the pair became known as “God’s architects” and their modernist style marked their buildings out in a country whose post-war rebuilding programme often prided drab functionality over optimistic, forward-looking design. The creative directors of the firm from 1956 until its winding up in 1987 were Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein, and it was these two architects who were responsible for the firm's major achievements.


List of major works

Themes and Variations: The post-war designs of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia

Four films and one podcast from the fantastic Building Design Podcast:

Lessons in Architecture: Beginnings (MacMillan and Metzstein discuss their early days; video, 66.8MB, direct download.)

Lessons in Architecture: Sacred and Secular – St Paul's, Glenrothes, 1956 (Andy MacMillan on the design of their first church; video, 31.5MB, direct download.)

Lessons In Architecture: Cell & Site – The Lawns halls of residence, Hull University, 1968 (Isi Metzstein on the philosophy of the design of the project; video, 22.5MB, direct download.)

Slide-In (MacMillan and Metzstein discuss the relationship between their own work and their Scottish forebears; video, 27.7MB, direct download.)

AF Gold Lectures: Charlie Sutherland and Charlie Hussey of Sutherland Hussey interview Isi Metzstein (Isi Metzstein lecture on Gillespie Kidd & Coia buildings, followed by interview; MP3, 68.5MB, direct download.)

St Peter's Colledge, Cardross Completed for the Catholic Church, 1966; closed 1980; now derelict.
History
Images: original drawings; original photos; the main building today.
Johnathan Glancey: The Building that God forgot
Architecture Scotland: Why we should save St Peter's
Space and Light: The structure of St Peter's Seminary, Cardross (Documentary film from 1960s; duration 19:17; embedded video.)
posted by Len (14 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Hmm. A mix of the best and worst of modern church design. I believe the only building with which I'm at all familiar is Cumbernauld Technical College.

It's interesting how many of the buildings have been altered or demolished, already.
posted by dhartung at 12:20 PM on November 2, 2007


that Cumbernauld College is cool--very Logan's Run : >

they were not bad for modernists/brutalists...the buildings didn't age well at all tho, i don't think. Thanks!
posted by amberglow at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2007


That "Building that God forgot" piece is great, too.
posted by amberglow at 1:12 PM on November 2, 2007


I think I remember reading about (maybe?) St Peter's a few years ago- an article where the builder complained that the building fell into disrepair because the church didn't clean the gutters and turn the heat on. If your building is cold and leaky a few years after you've built it, I think you've missed a crucial point about buildings, somehow...

"Scale" in architecture always seems to me to be one of those cross-grained concepts that is very concrete in theory, yet very intangible and abstract in real life. I really like how the Space and Light video manages to show that these architects have put a lot of thought into scale; all these great lofty spaces with dramatic light and shadow, and yet in the convent kitchen (?) there's a little window over the dishwashing sink sized just for one. Lovely.

It doesn't have anything to do with anything, but Johnathan Glancey is far too clever for his own good. "This is an unholy place today. But not a wholly forgotten one." Dude, cut that right out, right now.
posted by oneirodynia at 1:36 PM on November 2, 2007


Great post but those are some ugly buildings. I can appreciate the concept of some brutalist works even if I don't really like them but these are just dreary.
posted by octothorpe at 1:43 PM on November 2, 2007


This is an unholy place today. But not a wholly forgotten one." Dude, cut that right out, right now.
I really liked that about it--it's hard to write interestingly about architecture--it's stuff that inherently needs to be experienced and walked thru, etc. Herbert Muschamp (just died) at the NYT did the same sort of thing in his architectural articles.
posted by amberglow at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2007


I admit that it's past my lunchtime. ;) But I liked the Architecture Scotland article better, especially since it brought up the point that modernism has a timeline component, and whether it's anti-modernist to save modernist buildings. Though the article wrapped up in a sort of confusing/disappointing "OMGdeadline!"kind of way.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:20 PM on November 2, 2007


these are just dreary.

It's hard to judge buildings from a photo of the outside (especially a teeny black and white photo)- if you haven't watched the Space and Light video, I recommend it. I tend to think the outside of the building should be more a function of what goes on inside, with the inside being the more aesthetically significant. The interior of St Peter's seemed pretty non-dreary, though I can't vouch for what it might have been like in the wintertime.
posted by oneirodynia at 2:32 PM on November 2, 2007


A photo of Len taking a photo at St. Peter's Seminary.
posted by jack_mo at 9:13 AM on November 3, 2007


The interior of St Peter's seemed pretty non-dreary

You're not wrong there; even in its current dilapidated, vandalised state, there's something weird and calm and serene about it. As long as the Buckfast-drinking locals are not hanging around, that is. (Though they're entertaining in their own, shall we say, particular way.)

A photo of Len taking a photo at St. Peter's Seminary
Ha, I'd totally forgotten about that photo. Makes me want to go visit again.

Also: disturbed to see the lack of comment from the Sgt Serenity, given that there's a legitimate reason for the "hull" tag on this one ...
posted by Len at 1:35 PM on November 3, 2007


If your building is cold and leaky a few years after you've built it, I think you've missed a crucial point about buildings, somehow...

Everyone always blames the architect for leaks. WTF? There's like a million reasons a building can leak --- poor window manufacture, poor installation, neglect in building maintenance --- and none of those reasons necessarily speak to the theoretical intent of the building, and its failure or success. Lay off! Start dissing the contractors for a change --- they're the ones who get the big bucks anyway!
posted by DenOfSizer at 3:20 PM on November 3, 2007


Also: disturbed to see the lack of comment from the Sgt Serenity, given that there's a legitimate reason for the "hull" tag on this one ...

Never fear the good sarge is here, awakened from his slumber by angry Glaswegians jealous of the attention given to Edinburgh's Sir Basil 'Hammer of the Gorbals' Spence, who oddly enough has an exhibition in progress at the same time this pro glesgae post is on - i would have to say though that this post just cements (geddit ?) the fact that Glasgow is a more wealthy and priviliged place to live than Edinburgh these days.

(love the hull tag, cheers leon)
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:45 PM on November 3, 2007


DenofSizer: builder= contractor, not architect.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:00 PM on November 3, 2007


This is a great post Len. Thanks.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 8:03 AM on November 8, 2007


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