Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Robert McDowall Symonds |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1892 |
|Died: ||1963 |
|Bio Notes: ||Robert McDowall Symonds was born in Edinburgh in 1892 and studied at Edinburgh College of Art. He served his articles with David McArthy from 1906 to 1910 (or 1911, sources vary). During the period 1911-13 he was an assistant in the practice of Burnett Napier Henderson Orphoot, working mainly on theatres and domestic design, moving to a similar position in the office of Alan Keith Robertson where he worked on Moray House Training College. This was followed by a spell in the office of Leadbetter Fairley & Reid working on Scottish domestic commissions, and on general design. His final move in Edinburgh was back to the office of David McArthy where he assisted on the design for the Dick Vet. |
He left Scotland for Canada on 22 February 1913 to assist Thomas Reid Peacock on the Quebec Harbour commission. He served with the Canadian Army in France during World War 1, but after the cease of hostilities he returned to Canada and settled in Toronto where he worked as a draftsman for a succession of firms including Horwood & White (1919-20) where he worked on large department stores for the Hudson Bay Company, the City Architect’s Office (1920-23), here he was in charge of the design and preparation of drawings for all buildings erected by the City including the Coliseum Exhibition Building and other municipal structures including hospitals. He then moved as assistant and designer for Burden & Gouinlock (1923-25), where he worked on schools, domestic buildings and churches and finally to Chapman & Oxley (1926-27) working on a theatre and some large office buildings.
From 1926-28 he worked in Moose Jaw, Saskatoon and Edmonton, Alberta where he worked as assistant and designer for Richard Geoffrey Bunyard on hotels hospitals and schools. He was then invited by R P Blakey to form a partnership. The practice was a general one and undertook a range of commissions including industrial buildings, apartment blocks and schools. In 1928 he was elected a member of the Alberta Association of Architects and he served as president for three years.
However this partnership was dissolved in 1934. He returned to Great Britain and he continued his career in London working as chief assistant to W B Binnie on the Arsenal Football Stadium, hospitals, the Phoenicia Hotel, Malta and on factory designs.
During the Second World War he was attached to the Canadian Engineers at the Canadian Military Headquarters in London and worked on machine shops, hospitals and camps. After the cease of hostilities he returned to Binnie as partner and was involved with the design of a brewery in Malta, hotel work, factories and a football stadium. In 1954 he opened his own private practice which was a general one with factory and domestic work among other commissions.
He was elected ARIAS in 1955 suggesting he retained an interest in Scottish architecture. He was elected LRIBA the following year, proposed by Cecil S Burgess, C W Fowler and Edward Maufe.
Symonds died in 1963.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Edinburgh, Scotland(?)||Private||Before 1930(?)|| || |
|417, Empire Block, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada||Private/business(?)||1930 or 1931 *|| || |
|27, Wellesley Road, Chiswick, London, England||Business||1939 *||After 1955|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
|The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|Cecil Scott Burgess||10 April 1956||For Licentiateship|
|C W Fowler||10 April 1956||For Licentiateship|
|Edward Brantwood Maufe||10 April 1956||For Licentiateship|
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/|| ||http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/|| || ||Per Robert Hill|
|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|| |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|RIAS, Rutland Square||Records of membership|| || |
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||L no 6699 (Box 155)|