RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award 2010, Richard Gibson Lerwick, Scotland Architecture, Buildings, UK

RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award : Richard Gibson Architect

Royal Institute of British Architects Awards in Scotland – prize given to Shetland Isles architect

19 May 2010

RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award

RIAS Award for Shetland Architect

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has presented the distinguished Shetland-based architect Richard Gibson with its Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest accolade within Scottish architecture. Richard’s practice Richard Gibson Architects has produced many well known restoration and conversion projects throughout the Shetland Islands.

Presenting the award at the RIAS annual Convention at the Tolbooth in Stirling RIAS President David Dunbar commented “There are many prizes for architecture which recognise the qualities of an individual building but very few which celebrate a lifelong commitment to excellence in design, which is acknowledged in this award. Recognition from your peers is perhaps the greatest accolade anyone can receive.”

Richard Gibson at the RIAS Convention:
Richard Gibson architect - RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award
photograph : Wattie Cheung

Richard who travelled from his home in Lerwick to Stirling to attend the RIAS’ annual convention told delegates he was “staggered” by the award.  Previous recipients of the RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award include Robert Steedman, of Morris and Steedman, and the architectural partnership Professors Andy MacMillan and Isi Metzstein of Gillespie, Kidd and Coia.

The citation for Richard’s Lifetime Achievement Award was delivered by Neil Baxter, RIAS Secretary & Treasurer and follows:

Richard Gibson was born in London in 1935. His father was an architect as was his father-in-law. As a youth he visited the Festival of Britain when it was under construction. He cites this extraordinary and important exhibition as the inspiration for his subsequent career in architecture. After study at the Architectural Association, he was employed as an Architectural Assistant variously at British Railways and subsequently Middlesex County Council. From 1963 he was a Housing Architect in Hampstead Borough Council and from 1965 the Principal Architect of Camden Borough Council.

In 1968, inspired by holidays on Barra and the flower-power ethos of the time, Richard took what some might have considered a demotion, to become the Depute County Architect of Zetland County Council. The discovery of North Sea oil at that time prompted a mini building boom and encouraged him to establish Richard Gibson Architects in 1972.

Since its foundation, Richard Gibson Architects has been responsible for numerous important restoration and conversion projects throughout the Shetland Islands. Its new-build projects range from a, perfectly crafted, little artist’s studio to the RIBA Commended Hamnavoe Primary School. The latter acknowledges the scale of its village setting in a loose plan arrangement and in the low range of shallow glazed bays which form the classroom block.

Richard Gibson Architects seems equally at home dealing with the careful and accurate restoration of eighteenth century Merchants Houses, the Hanseatic Trading Booth, at Symbister Harbour or the reworking of Symbister House, Shetland’s most outstanding Georgian building. They have also converted a mill to a museum and an ex manse to an outdoor centre.

Their awards are many, including a plethora of Shetland Amenity Trust Awards, Saltire Awards, Civic Trust Commendations and RIAS Regeneration and Dynamic Place Commendations. John Jamieson Closs in Lerwick, new-build housing from 1982, is deftly worked into the weave of the Lerwick lanes. A similar later development at North Road, Lerwick, works the familiar lane pattern of the place into parallel terraces stepping down a steep slope.

From 1994 Richard Gibson Architects has been a member of Acanthus – a recognition of the practice’s very particular expertise in the restoration of historic buildings and the creation of sensitive new-build development within historic places.

For over forty years, Richard Gibson has contributed to the process of repair and restoration in all of Shetland’s communities. His work is always contextual but never slavishly traditionalist. Whether it is in the restoration of historic buildings in the vastness of the Shetland landscape or in the inspired commercial buildings, which relieve the predominant sheddery of Shetland’s harbours and industrial areas, this practice has continuously striven to enhance some of Scotland’s most precious landscapes. In much of the architectural delight to be found amid the weave of Shetland’s communities can be traced the hand of Richard Gibson.

Richard Gibson at the RIAS Convention:
Richard Gibson
photograph : Wattie Cheung

RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award images / information from The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland

RIAS Lifetime Achievement Award 2010 : Jonathan Speirs

The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) was founded in 1916 and is the professional body for over 3,500 chartered architects in Scotland. The RIAS works in partnership with the RIBA (the Royal Institute of British Architects) to promote excellent design in Scotland.

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