St Peter’s architects celebrated

Major Gillespie, Kidd & Coia exhibition announced. Words: Allan Radcliffe

The work of two of Scotland’s greatest living architects, Andy MacMillan (pictured) and Isi Metzstein, is to be celebrated in a major exhibition led by The Lighthouse. Gillespie, Kidd & Coia: Architecture 1956-1987 will open at Scotland’s national architecture and design centre in Autumn 2007.

The firm, established in 1927 by Jack Coia, John Gaff Gillespie and William Kidd, became widely celebrated for its distinctive World War II buildings, including St Paul’s Glenrothes, Robinson College, Cambridge and Blackwell’s Bookshop, Oxford, the practice becoming globally renowned when MacMillan and Metzstein assumed design control in 1956.

As well as funding a large-scale exhibition and related outreach programme, a £342,000 award from the Heritage Lottery Fund will also enable the Gillespie, Kidd & Coia archive, held at The Glasgow School of Art, to be catalogued and conserved.

Responding to the announcement of the exhibition, MacMillan said: ‘Social, cultural, economic and political landscapes change. Buildings, which are rooted in time and place, provide points of reference in a shifting world. We are delighted that The Lighthouse is spearheading this survey of Gillespie Kidd & Coia that will offer a unique overview of the practice and its work.’

Culture lovers need only look at the response to this magazine’s campaign to save Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s St Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, to see how influential the architects’ work remains. St Peter’s, built in 1966, topped Prospect magazine’s poll of Scotland’s 100 best modern buildings, but has been sorely neglected since its closure by the Archdiocese of Glasgow in 1980. To date, The List’s campaign to stimulate debate on possibilities for the future of the ‘jewel in the crown of modernism’ has been responsible for a fundraising comedy benefit at The Stand in Glasgow in August and an exhibition of art inspired by St Peter’s, including work by artist Toby Paterson and filmmaker Murray Grigor. Grigor was awarded The Lighthouse 2005 Achievement Award to enable him to remake his seminal 1974 film of St Peter’s, Space and Light. Both the original documentary and the new film will be shown as part of the exhibition.

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