Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robin Smith Dods (or Robert Smith Dods)
Designation: Architect
Born: 1868
Died: 23 July 1920
Bio Notes: Robert Smith Dods (generally known as Robin) was born in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1863, the eldest son of Robert Smith Dods, a wholesale grocer and his wife Elizabeth Grey Stodart, through whom there may have been a distant family connection with his lifelong friend from 1890, Robert Stodart Lorimer. In the earlier 1870s the Dods family returned to Edinburgh where Robert Smith Dods senior died in 1876. His widow then returned to her mother in Brisbane where she married Dr Charles Marks, a surgeon in 1880. Dods was educated at Brisbane Grammar School and returned to Edinburgh in 1886 to be articled to Hay & Henderson, perhaps because of the latter's Australian links. While at Hay & Henderson's he attended the Edinburgh Architectural Association of which he was a member of the work class committee in 1890.

In the same year Dods went to London to work first in the War Office fortifications branch, and then for Aston Webb and Ingress Bell, the latter of whom was consultant to the War Office. While in London Dods either met or more probably renewed acquaintance with Lorimer in Oxford, becoming his closest friend and executing some of his exhibition drawings. Dods passed the qualifying exam in 1891 and was admitted ARIBA on 8 June that year, his proposers being Frederic Richard Farrow, Arthur Cates and Aston Webb. In the same year he travelled in Italy where he first met his future wife Mary Marian King. He won a special award in the Tite Prize competition in 1893 and was runner-up in the Soane Medallion competition of 1894, by which date he had become a senior assistant in the office of Dunn & Watson. In 1895 Dods returned to his mother in Brisbane and formed a connection with Francis Richard Hall, whose father had been Dr Charles Marks's architect, to enter the competition for the nurses' home at Brisbane General Hospital. When their design won this competition in December of that year, Hall dissolved his partnership with Edward Myer Myers and took Dods as his partner in August 1896. This enabled Dods to marry Mary King in March 1899, the marriage taking place in Sydney, and for her he built the fine timber house on Abbot and Sydney Streets, New Farm in 1900. Prior to his marriage Dods twice visited her in the USA and doubtless studied developments in contemporary American architecture although his designs for public buildings remained faithful to Aston Webb's free classical manner.

In 1900 Dods supervised the construction of the Edwards Dunlop Building in Brisbane for the Sydney architects Slayter & Cosh. Lacking commissions for major public buildings in Brisbane, Dods maintained a connection with this firm, which became Alfred Spain & Thomas F Cosh, designing the Daily Telegraph Building in Sydney for them in 1912. This induced him to become a partner in that firm, which took the practice name of Spain Cosh & Dods, when he moved to Sydney in 1913, Hall then merging his practice with that of the Sydney architects J F and B J Hennessy as Hennessy & Hennessy & F R Hall.

During the First World War Dods's health failed and a return to Scotland as Lorimer's partner was discussed in letters written in 1916, when their practices were both in severe recession, but this was not implemented and Dods died on 23 July 1920 in Sydney.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Brisbane, AustraliaPrivate18761886 
Item 2 of 5Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate18861890 
Item 3 of 5London, EnglandPrivate18901895 
Item 4 of 5Brisbane, AustraliaBusiness18951913 
Item 5 of 5Sydney, AustraliaBusiness19131920 

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 6Hay & Henderson18861890Assistant 
Item 2 of 6War Office Architects Department18901891Assistant 
Item 3 of 6(Sir) Aston Webb & E Ingress Bell18911894Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Dunn & Watson18941895Assistant 
Item 5 of 6Hall & Dods1896c. 1913(?)PartnerSeems to be a difference of opinion as to when the partnership finished. Bal says 1916 but we have 1913.
Item 6 of 6Spain Cosh & Dods19131920Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Hall & Dods  Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Arthur Cates8 June 1891for Assocateship
Item 2 of 3Frederic Richard Farrow8 June 1891for Assocateship
Item 3 of 3Aston Webb8 June 1891for Assocateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1Edwin Evan Smith20 July 1911for Licentiateship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 51910Country ChurchLaidley QueenslandAustraliaProposed
Item 2 of 51910Diocesan Office  BrisbaneAustralia 
Item 3 of 51910Insurance Offices  BrisbaneAustralia 
Item 4 of 51918Australian Mercantile Land and Finance Co's Offices  BrisbaneAustralia 
Item 5 of 51918St Brigid's Church  BrisbaneAustralia 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 6Anon2006Nindooinbah Country Life, 7 September 2006, pp110-114 
Item 2 of 6Lund, Neville H1958Robin S Dods: the life and work of a distinguished Queensland   
Item 3 of 6Placzek, Adolf K (ed)1982Macmillan Encyclopedia of Architects New York: The Free Press/Macmillan Publishing Company 
Item 4 of 6Royal Academy exhibitors     
Item 5 of 6Savage, Peter1980Lorimer and the Edinburgh Craft Designers Edinburgh: Paul Harris Publishing, 1980 (also paperback ed, London & Edinburgh: Steve Savage, 2005) 
Item 6 of 6Watson, Donald and McKay, Judith1994Queensland Architects of the 19th Century Brisbane: Queensland Museum 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Brisbane Courier4 January 1896  p3
Item 2 of 5Builder17 September 1920  Obituary
Item 3 of 5Building12 August 1920  Obituary
Item 4 of 5RIBA Journal4 December 1921XXVIIILondon: Royal Institute of British Architectsp78
Item 5 of 5Royal Victorian Institute of Architects JournalJuly 1920   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSDrawings Collection Copied of drawings in NMRS
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v11 p81 (microfiche 48/F1)