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Location: Glasgow Guide / Glasgow Information / Famous Glaswegians /  Robert Adam    

Famous Glaswegians (and those who became famous in Glasgow)<<

Adam, Robert[Born: Kirkcaldy, Fife 1728 - Died: 1792]

Famous Glaswegian: Robert AdamThe 18th century was a great period in British Architecture but nowhere was this more apparent than in Scotland. Politicians who became wealthy following the union of Scotland and England tended to build their own mansions north of the border. In addition the Act of Union allowed for greater prosperity which in turn led to new buildings in both the private and public sector. The most important British Architects of this age were Scots - Colen Campbell, James Gibb and Robert Adam. They interpreted the first phase of Classicism in the Palladian form.

Robert Adam was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife in 1728. His father was William Adam, an architect who was kings mason at Edinburgh and also designed the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary. At the age of 11 he moved to Edinburgh. Robert was educated at Edinburgh University but never graduated due to illness and the '45 Jacobite rebellion. His father died when he was 20 and Robert joined the family architectural firm which became known as Adam Brothers

In 1754 he visited France and Italy on an extensive 'Grand Tour' where he studied classical Roman remains and learnt drawing and drafting skills. When he returned to London he developed within 5 years a personal style of decorative perfection and he became the fashionable architect of the high society.

Although there was a surge of interest in classical architecture trying to recreate the style and proportions of buildings of ancient Rome, Adams took it one stage further and evolved a style of his own which was not bound by strict classical proportions - in this sense he was a bit of a rebel - he experimented , borrowing influences from Greek , Byzantine and Italian Baroque with spectacular results .

Part of the reason for his immense success was his insistence on designing everything himself down to the smallest detail which created a sense of unity and flow in his designs, including:

  • Airthrey Castle, near Stirling
  • Archerfield House, East Lothian
  • Charlotte Square, Edinburgh
  • Culzean Castle, south of Ayr

Built to the designs of Robert Adam between 1791 and 1794, the Trades' Hall was built to house the federation of Glasgow's 14 trades, collectively known as the Trades' House and is located on Glassford Street, in Glasgow's City Centre. It is the only remaining Adam built property in the city and has undergone extensive interior renovation in the late 19th and 20th centuries.


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