Basic Biographical Details

Name: Graham Couper Law
Designation: Architect
Born: 28 September 1923
Died: 13 September 1996
Bio Notes: Graham Couper Law was born on 28 September 1923, the son of William Couper and his wife Eliza, and lived in Rhu during his early years. He was educated at Glasgow Academy, Ardvreck Preparatory and Merchiston Castle Schools. He studied for the degree of MA at King's College, Cambridge from 1940-41 and from 1947-50, his studies having been interrupted by the Second World War. During the War he served with the Royal Engineers. He was awarded a College Exhibition and distinction in his thesis and was admitted ARIBA in 1951 (and ARIAS io 1955).

He worked as an assistant with Adams Holden & Pearson in London and then moved to Glasgow to the practice of Burnet & Boston. He was with the Weir Housing Corporation in Coatbridge for a spell before joining Robert Matthew's newly established private practice in Edinburgh (later Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall) in November 1954. One of his first projects there was Kincardine Power Station. He formed a partnership with James Dunbar-Nasmith (also of Matthew's firm) in 1957. He undertook some tutorial work at Edinburgh College of Art in the early 1960s. He was elected FRIAS in 1963.

According to his obituarist in 'The Scotsman' Law was responsible for all the theatre designs that the practice produced in its early days - a fact also acknowledged by Dunbar-Nasmith. These included the Eden Court Theatre, Inverness and the Pitlochry Festival Theatre, which made use of its striking site. Both designs reintroduced the idea of operatic excitement to the auditorium and were important landmarks in post-war theatre design.

Law was also responsible for the design of a number of exhibitions for the Edinburgh Festival, some of which were carried out in association with Richard Buckle. Among others were the Epstein, Barbara Hepworth, Indian Art and Dance, and Treasures from Scottish Country Houses exhibitions.

The practice expanded over the years and a branch office was opened in Forres in 1975. A year before he retired from the partnership he supported the expansion of the business into Germany with the acquisition of a practice in Wiesbaden.

Law took an active interest in matters relating to the profession and served on the Council of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, the RIAS Council and the ARCUK Council and on its professional purposes committee. From 1980 Law was an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, to which he was a regular contributor of both painting and architecture and from 1913 an Academician. He was the first chairman from 1977 to 1981 of an organisation dedicated to providing studio accommodation for artists and craftsmen, Workshops and Artists' Studio Provision (WASPS).

He was very clear-minded and applied this to any problems that arose during a job and ensured that the first concept of a design was not lost until the building was completed. As a person Law was very modest despite his prodigious talents, and hated publicity. He delighted in the company of close friends and his large family, to whom he was devoted.

Law retired in 1984. He died from cancer on 13 September 1996, survived by his wife Isobel Evelyn Alexander Drysdale and their four children and ten grandchildren. Dunbar-Nasmith continued the practice thereafter.

Publications: 'Greek Thomson' in Architectural Review May 1954.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Rosshill, Dalmeny, West Lothian, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1955After 1970 
Item 2 of 4Duneira, Rhu, Dunbartonshire, ScotlandPrivatec. 1955 *  
Item 3 of 454, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1964 *  
Item 4 of 416, Dublin Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1979 *After 1987 

* 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 5Weir Housing Corporation LtdAfter 1951November 1954(?)  
Item 2 of 5Frank Burnet & BostonAfter 1951Before 1954  
Item 3 of 5Robert Hogg MatthewNovember 19541956Architect 
Item 4 of 5Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall (RMJM)1956Early 1957Architect 
Item 5 of 5Law & Dunbar-Nasmith1 April 1957After 1979Partner 

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 441954Kincardine Power StationKincardine-on-Forth FifeScotland 
Item 2 of 441956Pair of farm cottagesCublington BuckinghamshireEngland 
Item 3 of 441957Ochlochy Village HousingDunblane PerthshireScotland 
Item 4 of 441959Clermiston Inn  EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 441959Private houseRhu DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 6 of 441959Scottish Churches HouseDunblane PerthshireScotlandConversion
Item 7 of 441960s(?)BEA sales office  GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 441960s(?)Ferry terminalArdrossan AyrshireScotland 
Item 9 of 441960sHouse for Leopold David de RothschildExbury HampshireEngland 
Item 10 of 441960sSt Mary's SchoolHaddington East LothianScotland 
Item 11 of 441960sSt Ninian's High SchoolKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandExtension on CLASP system
Item 12 of 441960sVilla, Rhu Road LowerHelensburgh Dunbartonshire/ArgyllScotland 
Item 13 of 441960s(?)Wullie Muir Inn  EdinburghScotland 
Item 14 of 441960Aswanley House  AberdeenshireScotlandOgee roof
Item 15 of 441960Dumbarton Central Area DevelopmentDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland2nd prize in competition
Item 16 of 441960Dunbartonshire County Council OfficesDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandPlaced second in the competition for redevelopment of central Dumbarton which included new County Offices.
Item 17 of 441960Kingsway Technical College  DundeeScotlandTwo blocks added - in conjunction with the SED
Item 18 of 441960Leuchie House  East LothianScotland 
Item 19 of 441961Edinburgh Festival Society Exhibitions  EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 441962BEA ticket office  EdinburghScotland 
Item 21 of 441962Leuchie House, walled gardenNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandHouse in corner of walled garden. Extension 1964.
Item 22 of 441963Cramond Brig Cottages  EdinburghScotland 
Item 23 of 441963St Crispin's Special SchoolWest Mains Edinburgh, MidlothianScotland 
Item 24 of 441964Kinross House and Home Farm  Kinross-shireScotlandAlterations to Home Farm
Item 25 of 441966St Columba's Ecumenical Church, CraigshillLivingston West LothianScotlandMainly responsible for design (Gifford)
Item 26 of 441968Kingsinch SchoolInch EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 44c. 196Pitlochry Festival TheatrePitlochry PerthshireScotlandAlterations to temporary tent structure
Item 28 of 441970sCLASP school buildings for SED and NBA   Scotland 
Item 29 of 441970sConservation projects  EdinburghScotlandConservation
Item 30 of 441970sDervaig Arts TheatreDervaigMullArgyllScotland 
Item 31 of 441970sLoretto School, theatreMusselburgh MidlothianScotland 
Item 32 of 441970sOffices for Clydesdale Bank  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 33 of 441970sTelevision studios for STV  EdinburghScotland 
Item 34 of 441970s(?)TV transmitter stations for ITA   Scotland 
Item 35 of 441970Glen Tanar House (new)Glen Tanar AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 36 of 441970Milnwood Housing EstateBellshill LanarkshireScotlandPhase I
Item 37 of 441971St Margaret's School  EdinburghScotland2-storey addition
Item 38 of 441973Bishop's PalaceInverness Inverness-shireScotlandTheatre
Item 39 of 441973Eden Court TheatreInverness Inverness-shireScotlandPartner-in-charge
Item 40 of 44Before 1975Willie Muir Inn  EdinburghScotland 
Item 41 of 441976St Machar's CathedralOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandRestoration with fabric fully conserved
Item 42 of 441979Pitlochry Festival TheatrePitlochry PerthshireScotlandNew permanent building
Item 43 of 441983Fort George PrisonFort George Inverness-shireScotlandRestoration
Item 44 of 442000Birmingham Hippodrome  BirminghamEnglandComplete refurbishment, including creation of second theatre space and construction of new facade


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 10Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Pressp129
Item 2 of 10Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp18-19 Kincardine Power Station
Item 3 of 10Glendinning, Miles2008Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew RIBA Publishingp156,171,236,238
Item 4 of 10Municipal Annual1964Scottish Municipal Annual1964-1965  
Item 5 of 10RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 6 of 10RIBA1964The RIBA Kalendar 1964-65   
Item 7 of 10RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   
Item 8 of 10RIBA1979Directory of members   
Item 9 of 10RIBA1987RIBA Directory of Members 1987   
Item 10 of 10Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p80-3 Eden Court Theatre

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2RIAS NewsletterNovember 1996v7, no9 Death notice
Item 2 of 2Scotsman17 September 1996  Obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership