Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||William Brown Whitie |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1871 |
|Died: ||9 October 1946 |
|Bio Notes: ||William Brown Whitie was born in Galashiels in 1871, the son of William Whitie, joiner and Margaret Brown. He was articled there to J & J Hall in 1884, and left at the end of this apprenticeship for Edinburgh where he worked for Kinnear & Peddie in 1890. In the following year he moved to Glasgow as assistant to John Gordon, and studied at Glasgow School of Art, but in 1894 he obtained a place with the City Engineer Alexander Beith McDonald. He remained there until he won the competition for Springburn Public Hall and Winter Garden in 1899, enabling him to commence practice in Glasgow on his own account. |
In 1903 Whitie won the competition for the Public Library in Springburn and in 1906 that for the Mitchell Library, a major project which secured his position financially for life. The competition was assessed by John Keppie who was, at least in later years, to tease him mercilessly on the subject at Glasgow Art Club. The prestigious nature of the commission, which developed considerably from the original competition drawings, resulted in Whitie being admitted FRIBA without first being a licentiate on 2 March 1908, his proposers being John James Burnet, James Milne Monro, James Miller and C J MacLean.
Beyond the few big competition wins of his earlier years Whitie's practice was never large. Partly that was in the nature of Whitie himself: he never married and, beyond the Art Club, his circle of friends was limited, but to those who knew him, he was a loyal friend and in any difficulty a sound adviser. A former assistant (quoted by A Graham Henderson) summarised him as being 'studious and careful with an excellent technical knowledge and, in the best sense of the term, a good business man… He was patient, took great trouble to do everything as well as he possibly could, and his all round professional competence was of a very high order. His personal integrity expressed itself in everything he did, and a client was safe in his hands… his work, to a large extent, was designed, and detailed by himself without assistance'.
Stylistically Whitie remained very much an Edinburgh architect. It is not known if he maintained contact with J M Dick Peddie's office but the architecture of the Mitchell Library has much in common with Peddie's Edinburgh Life building. By about 1910 his massive neo Palladian had been superseded by an accomplished Beaux-Arts Louis Quinze.
Despite his withdrawn nature and limited practice, Whitie was nevertheless active in professional matters. He took an active role in founding the RIAS and was the mover of the original motion to form it at the joint meeting of the chapters. In recognition of his efforts he was President of the Glasgow Institute in 1921-22 and although he had little business between the wars, he was elected President of the RIAS in 1934-36. He was also a governor of the Royal Technical College.
Whitie died of pernicioius anaemia and parotitis at the Western Infirmary on 9 October 1946, leaving estate of £5,322 which was bequeathed to the benevolent funds of the Royal Incorporation and the Glasgow Institute. At that date he was living at 197 Great Western Road, which had been his home since at least 1908.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|17, Shamrock Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1891 *|| || |
|196, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||Before 1900||1907 or 1908|| |
|219, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1907 or 1908||After 1920|| |
|197, Great Western Road, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||Before 1908||1946|| |
|226, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||Before 1924||After 1935|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Henry Pearce Robbie||Before 1928||c. 1930||Assistant(?)|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|British Architectural Library, RIBA||2001||Directory of British Architects 1834-1914|| || || |
|RIBA||1930||The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|RIBA||1939||The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|Royal Academy exhibitors|| || || || || |
|Who's Who in Architecture||1914|| || || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Building Industries||16 December 1921|| || ||p 137|
|RIAS Quarterly||February 1947||no. 67||Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)||Obituary by A Graham Henderson|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Information on parentage and death from research by Iain Paterson|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||F v19 p108 no1406 (microfilm reel 12)|
© All rights reserved. ©and courtesy of RIAS
© All rights reserved. Building Industries 16 December 1921 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson)