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Sir Giles Gilbert Scott

(1880—1960) architect


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(1880–1960).

English architect, one of the more eminent of the first half of C20. The son of ‘Middle’ Scott, he was articled to the latter's pupil, Temple Moore, and was profoundly affected by the work of both men. In his early twenties (1903) he won the second competition to design the Anglican Cathedral in Liverpool (1903–80) which occupied him for the rest of his life. Because of his youth and his Roman Catholicism, the Liverpool Cathedral Committee insisted that a senior architect should work with him, and Bodley (who had been one of the competition assessors) was appointed, an arrangement which exasperated Scott, and came to an end with Bodley's death in 1907. The beautiful Lady Chapel was immediately redesigned by Scott, who gave the vaulting a much more German late-Gothic appearance, something further enhanced by the elaborate Flügelaltar. With Bodley out of the way, Scott redesigned the rest of the building, and created a Sublime monument with breathtaking internal volumes, quite unlike any other work of the Gothic Revival. He replaced the twin towers of his winning design with a single mighty battered tower and pairs of transepts, which also helped to create a huge central space. At the same time he simplified the elevations, contrasting massive unadorned sandstone walls with sumptuous detail, and towering verticality with judicious use of horizontals. The choir and the first pair of transepts were completed by 1924; the central tower was finished in 1942; and the first bay of the nave was opened in 1961. The western parts of the Cathedral were completed under Frederick Thomas (1898–1984), who became a partner in Scott's firm in 1953, and senior partner on Scott's death in 1960. Thomas continued to be associated with the Cathedral until 1980, but most of the design drawings for the revised and reduced scheme were the work of Roger Arthur Philip Pinckney (1900–90). Even in its smaller realization, the Cathedral is still a scenic prodigy, a mighty monument to the originality and inventiveness of its architect.

Among Scott's other churches may be mentioned the Annunciation, Bournemouth, Hants. (1905–6), St Joseph, Cromer Road, Sheringham, Norfolk (1908–10—in which a tendency to greatly simplify Gothic forms is very marked), the monumental Our Lady of the Assumption, Northfleet, Kent (1913–16—displaying certain design features that were to reappear at Liverpool Cathedral), St Paul, Stonycroft, Liverpool (1913–16), St Andrew, Luton, Beds. (1931–2), St Francis, Terriers, High Wycombe, Bucks. (1928–30), St Alban, Golders Green, London (1932–3), and the austere RC Cathedral of St Columba, Oban, Argyll (1930–53). One of his most successful churches, with its battered walls, is St Michael, Ashford, Middx. (1927–8). He also designed the completion of the nave at Downside Abbey, Som. (1917–39), several boarding-houses and the Chapel at Ampleforth College, Yorks. (1922–60), and the very fine Chapel at Charter-house School, Godalming, Surrey(1922–7—per-haps one of his most successful buildings). At St Alphege, Bath (1927–30), and the Chapel at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1931–2), he employed a simple round-arched style instead of Gothic. After the 1914–18 war he designed the Memorial Court, Clare College, Cambridge (1922–32), in a simplified Neo-Georgian style, on the central axis of which is the central tower of his huge Cambridge University library (1930–4). At Oxford he designed the New Bodleian Library opposite Hawksmoor's Clarendon Building (1935–46—a great part of which is below ground thus keeping the visible part of the building low), and Longwall Quad, Magdalen College (1928–9).

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Subjects: Architecture.


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