Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Bryce Binnie (Major)
Designation: Architect
Born: 1 July 1886
Died: 1963
Bio Notes: William Bryce Binnie was born on 1 July 1886 at Kingscavil Rows, Linlithgow the son of William Binnie, bricklayer, and his wife Helen Bryce who had married on 5 September 1879 in Bathgate. He was articled to Robert Alexander Bryden in 1904. On Bryden's death in 1906 he transferred to the office of John Burnet & Son to complete his apprenticeship. He studied at the Glasgow School of Art from 1908 to 1910 and obtained a Gold Medal and travelling scholarship in the latter year, which enabled him to spend approximately a year in Italy. Instead of returning to Scotland, he then went to New York to work as a designer in the office of Warren & Wetmore, where he was responsible for the detailing of Grand Central Station and was supervising architect for the Baltimore Hotel. He returned to Britain in 1913 to take up a position as chief draughtsman to Leonard Martin in London.

He served in the Royal Highlanders during the First World War, and was promoted to the rank of temporary captain. He was awarded the military cross for gallantry in action. At the end of the war, in 1919, he was appointed Assistant Architect to the Imperial War Graves Commission and in 1920 Deputy Director, supervising the erection of war cemeteries and memorials in France, Belgium and Germany. In that capacity he designed the Memorial to the Ministry at Nieuport, Belgium with three lions by the sculptor C S Jagger.

He was admitted ARIBA late 1920 or early 1921, his proposers being Emanuel Vincent Harris, John James Burnet, and Leonard Martin, who described him as 'an architect of great ability' who would 'do great things in the future'; and was still in the same position, based in St Omer, Pas de Calais, France, when he was admitted FRIBA on 20 November 1925, his proposers this time being Reginald Blomfield, Edwin Landseer Lutyens and Herbert Baker.

He had returned to London by 1927 when he formed an 'association' with the London architect Claude Waterlow Ferrier, six years his senior, who had established a successful business incorporating public, institutional, religious and domestic work in Britain and abroad. He continued the practice after Ferrier's death on 6 July 1935 as a result of a road accident, the office at that time being at 26 Old Queen Street, Westminster. Among Binnie's major works were the East (or West?) Stand at Highbury for Arsenal Football Club (1936) and the Hotel Phoenicia at Valetta, Malta built in 1939 but not opened as a hotel until 1947.

In a letter to Gavin Stamp (12 September 1977) W C Von Berg, one of Binnie's assistant architects, described Binnie as 'an aggressive little Scotsman'.

Binnie died between April and June 1963. His death was reported to the RIBA Council on 26 June 1963. No obituary was published.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Tonbridge, Kent, EnglandPrivate 1963 
Item 2 of 4Springwells Avenue, Airdrie, Lanarkshire, ScotlandPrivate1919 *  
Item 3 of 4Imperial War Graves Commission, St Omer, Pas de Calais, FranceBusiness1925 *  
Item 4 of 426, Old Queen Street, Westminster, London, EnglandBusiness1935 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 5Robert Alexander Bryden19041906Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5John Burnet & Son19061908Apprentice 
Item 3 of 5Warren & Wetmore19111913Designer 
Item 4 of 5Leonard Martin19131914Chief Draughtsman 
Item 5 of 5Ferrier & Binnie19271935(?)Partner 

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 2Robert McDowall Symonds19351939Chief Assistant 
Item 2 of 2Robert McDowall Symonds19461953Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6(Sir) Herbert Baker30 November 1925for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6(Sir) Reginald Theodore Blomfield30 November 1925for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6(Sir) John James BurnetLate 1919 or early 1920for Associateship
Item 4 of 6Emanuel Vincent HarrisLate 1919 or early 1920for Associateship
Item 5 of 6Edwin Landseer Lutyens30 November 1925for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Leonard MartinLate 1919 or early 1920for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1James Allan Lauchlan13 February 1940for 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 8c. 1912Biltmore HotelNew York New YorkUnited States of AmericaAs designer and supervising architect to Warren & Wetmore
Item 2 of 8c. 1912Grand Central StationNew York New YorkUnited States of AmericaAs designer to Warren & Wetmore - responsible for detailing
Item 3 of 8c. 1912HotelGrand Rapids MichiganUnited States of AmericaAs designer to Warren & Wetmore
Item 4 of 8c. 1912StationDetroit MichiganUnited States of AmericaAs designer to Warren & Wetmore
Item 5 of 8After 192781 New Bond Street  LondonEngland 
Item 6 of 8After 1927Arsenal football stadiumHighbury LondonEnglandWest stand
Item 7 of 8After 1927National Temperance Hospital  London?EnglandExtensions
Item 8 of 8c. 1935Hotel Phoenicia  ValettaMalta 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Cherry, Bridget and Pevsner, Nikolaus1998London 4: North (The Buildings of England) London: Penguin Booksp667
Item 2 of 3Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary  (under Ferrier)
Item 3 of 3Stamp, Gavin1977Silent Cities: an exhibition of the Memorial and Cemetery Architecture of the Great War RIBA (London)p21

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Architect and Building News23 January 1948   
Item 2 of 5BuildingOctober 1948   
Item 3 of 5BuildingMarch 1950   
Item 4 of 5Dundee Courier21 October 1916   
Item 5 of 5RIBA Journal9 November 1935v43London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary of Claude Waterlow Ferrier, p37

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 5Courtesy of Morag CrossInformation sent to DSA Sent January 2014
Item 2 of 5England and WalesBirths, marriages and deaths  
Item 3 of 5Letter from Gavin Stamp.Information sent by Gavin Stamp to David Walker 2008 Contains further information about Hotel Phoenicia.
Item 4 of 5National Archives (via Scotlands People)Statutory births  
Item 5 of 5RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no2933 (microfilm reel 24); F no2235 (microfilm reel 17)