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Spence, Glover & Ferguson: Overview

Paper presented by James Beveridge.
Presentation notes provided by James Beveridge.


The practice went through six quite distinct phases.

1. The first from 1946 to 1951, setting up the practice and laying down the foundations.

2. The winning of the Coventry Cathedral competition in 1951 marked a major change. Basil moved to London in 1953. From then until the early ‘sixties was a formative period. Basil was responsible for the conceptual design of pretty well everything and Hardie Glover and Peter Ferguson became his partners in Edinburgh

3. The third phase, the ‘sixties and ‘seventies was marked by the death of Peter Ferguson and the leadership of Hardie Glover. Edinburgh developed its own personality. Whereas Basil remained the figurehead Hardie steered the ship, kept it on course and was an ideal ambassador for the practice. He was the epitomy of integrity and the heart and soul of the office. A perfect gentleman, involved in every project at all stages, but ensuring that the staff at all levels shared in the ownership of the designs as they evolved. Hardie set the professional and personal standards by which we all operated.

4. Basil retired in 1972 and died in 1976. By the mid ‘seventies Hardie had appointed the second generation of partners; myself [Jim Beveridge], Andrew Merrylees and John Legge; all “home grown”. Hardie retired in 1980 and the three younger partners carried on until Andrew resigned in 1985 and set up his own practice.

5. John and I continued until I retired in 1992 and John set up his own practice with Bengt Ericson, one of the Associates.

6. One could say that there is now a sixth phase with a third generation, addressing the future, employing the Spence approach; carried on in scores of architectural practices at home and overseas.