Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||George Donaldson Macniven |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1878 |
|Died: ||18 January 1949 |
|Bio Notes: ||George Donaldson Macniven was born in 1878, the son of John Macniven, publisher. He was educated at George Watson's College and articled to George Washington Browne in 1893, following him to the merged practice of John More Dick Peddie and Washington Browne in 1894. He studied at the School of Applied Art where he won a National Art Survey bursary and at Heriot-Watt, and he made a study tour in France, as well as spending a year making record drawings of historic buildings in Scotland under the direction of Robert Rowand Anderson. In 1903, he and Walter Fairbairn were taken into partnership by Alfred Greig, then the principal teacher of architecture in the School of Applied Art, where Macniven himself had had charge of an outdoor sketching class for a number of years. The practice was based at 31 York Place. When the School of Applied Art merged as part of Edinburgh College of Art in 1906, Greig's appointment came to an end, but Fairbairn secured a part-time appointment at Edinburgh College of Art and Lauder Technical School in Dunfermline. |
The practice seems to have specialised in small-scale competitions, particularly for public libraries, but they also won that for a model church for the United Free Church in the Highlands, which brought a considerable number of commissions for small churches in that area. All three architects were admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911 with the same proposers: John Wilson, James Bow Dunn and Thomas Duncan Rhind.
He was admitted FRIBA late 1915, proposed by Robert Lorimer, John Wilson and Alexander Lorne Campbel.
The partnership continued until 1915 when Macniven withdrew to enter government service, becoming architect (a temporary post) to the Local Government Board for Scotland. He was admitted FRIBA late that year, proposed by Robert Lorimer, John Wilson and Alexander Lorne Campbell. He was responsible for the supervision of the erection of houses for the Admiralty and the Ministry of Munitions during the First World War. He remained in the same post until 1918 when he took up the permanent post of principal architect and housing commissioner for the Scottish Board of Health, rising to Depute Chief Architect in 1929 after the reorganisation of the Board which was re-named the Department of Health for Scotland. He was promoted to Chief Architect in 1944 (RIBA obituary says 1942) until 1949. He also held the posts of consulting architect, Scottish Veterans Garden City Association and Appeals from 1945 and part-time Inspector of Historic Buildings for the Department of Health from 1944 to 1949 (some sources say 1948-49).
Macniven was a well-known tennis-player in his youth and later became an expert curler, representing his country at the game. In the latter capacity he visited Sweden in 1938 and took the opportunity to familiarise himself with recent architectural developments there. He was also a keen golfer. He died on 18 January 1949, leaving a widow, Maud Grace Hendry (daughter of Walter Hendry), whom he had married in 1922.
(See also separate entry for George Niven, who may be the same person but mistyped in sources.)
'Town Planning : the Essentials for Progress and Suggested Provisions of a Model Scheme'
Transactions of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, v10, p53
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|31, York Place, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1903||1915|| |
|Talgarth/6, Spylaw Park, Colinton, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1911 *|| || |
|13, Cluny Drive, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||Before 1911||After 1915|| |
|Local Government Board for Scotland/125, George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1915||1918|| |
|27, West Maitland Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||c. 1925 *||1939 or after 1940||Gives this address in RIBA Kalendars up to 1940|
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Glendinning, Miles||2008||Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew|| ||RIBA Publishing||p54, 59, 66|
|Post Office Directories|| || || || || |
|Scottish Biographies||1938|| || ||E J Thurston (pub.)|| |
|Who's Who in Architecture||1914|| || || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||4 February 1949|| || ||Obituary|
|Dundee Courier||27 March 1915|| || ||p2|
|Edinburgh Evening News||29 December 1944|| || ||Note on his retirement|
|RIBA Journal||March 1949|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||Obituary p244|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMS||NMRS Library|| ||Information from form filled in by Macniven lent by Ian Macniven, 27 West Maitland Street, Edinburgh|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||L v19 no1441; F no1588 (microfilm reel 13)|