Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert Russell Steedman
Designation: Architect
Born: 1929
Died:  
Bio Notes: Robert Russell Steedman was born at Batu Gajah, Malaysia on 3 January 1929, the son of Robert Smith Steedman, mining engineer, Siam and Federated Malay States, and his wife Helen Hope Brazier. The Steedmans returned to the UK in 1933, their son Robert being educated at Loretto 1942-26, followed by national service in the Royal West African Frontier Force in which he was commissioned 2nd lieutenant.

From 1949 Robert Steedman studied at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art where he was awarded a travelling scholarship in 1952. His future partner James Shepherd Morris (born 1931) also gained a travelling scholarship in that year and together they made their way across Switzerland and Italy to Greece on a motorbike. Their primary destination was Zurich where on their second visit they met Sigfried Giedion and Alfred Roth, the latter then Professor at the Technische Hochschule and secretary general of the still-ongoing CIAM, the Congrès Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne. They also met Alvar Aalto and found winter employment with Alfred Roth, previously of Marcel Breuer’s office, then engaged on the replanning of Zurich. In the spring of 1953 they returned through France and Spain to resume their studies at Edinburgh College of Art where Robert Matthew was now in charge of the School; and, in 1954, while still students, they were given the commission for the Tomlinson house at Cramond, which they designed but was executed under the supervision of Morris’s father Thomas Morris, an architect, as both Morris and Steedman were in the United States in 1955 (he was admitted ARIBA that year) with Fulbright scholarships to study for a Master’s degree in Professor Ian McHarg’s newly set up Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Pennsylvania. The course included classes with Philip Johnson and Louis Kahn.

After graduation Steedman travelled extensively throughout the United States, visiting houses and other buildings by Mies van der Rohe, Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, Philip Johnson, and Louis Khan, architects whose work he had admired as a student in Edinburgh and camping wherever possible in the impressive national Parks.

He then visited Japan, travelling by cargo ship across the Pacific, and spent some weeks mostly in the old capital of Kyoto, studying the traditional gardens, houses and palaces, where the modular plans and flexibility of spaces were inspirational.

In 1956 Robert returned to Edinburgh via Singapore, and set up the office of Morris & Steedman in his flat at No 1 Albyn Place, drawing up the plans, to designs in conjunction with James Morris, for the Wilson and Silitto houses, and supervising their construction. He was also a lecturer at Edinburgh College of Art, and worked part-time for Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall to survive financially.

Shortly after Morris’ return from a world-wide study tour in 1959, he joined Steedman, who by then had set up practice at 37 Young Street Lane North, Edinburgh, and shortly after John Holt, architect to the South East Regional Hospital Board recommended their appointment for the new buildings at the Princes Margaret Rose Hospital in Edinburgh. This included a large Clinical and Nurses Training Unit, which brought them a national reputation when completed in 1965.

It was quickly followed by commissions from the Universities of Edinburgh, Stirling and Strathclyde and numerous other public, industrial, office and hotel projects. In parallel they designed an extremely fine series of elegant modernist private houses developed from their experience in America which received widespread coverage in the Press and magazines. There was few firms of landscape architects in Scotland in the 1970s and James Morris and Robert Steedman were employed in a broad range of projects, from caravan sites for the Caravan Club (Yellowcraig was the first in the UK to receive a Civic Trust Award), to large schemes in connection with oil and gas related developments for BP, Shell and Esso. The Tank Farm at Dalmeny received the European Architectural Heritage Business and Industry Award). University campus plans, business parks and the stand at the Glasgow Garden Festival for the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland received a Silver Medal. ‘A Lighting Vision for Edinburgh’ and the ‘Relocation of the Edinburgh Tattoo’ were major studies.

Examples of the Firm’s work have been hung regularly in the Royal Scottish Academy, published in the national and international press and been featured in a number of books. It was also the recipient of many awards and commendations over the years. Among these were ten Civic Trust Awards for a variety of new build and restoration works, two RIBA Awards for Scotland, one of which was for the Countryside Commission Conference Centre and Offices at Battleby.

The practice also won The European Architectural Heritage Medal for the restoration and conversion of the Perth Waterworks into an art gallery in 1975, and the Annual Award of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland in both 1977 and 1989.

Robert Steedman was elected an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy in 1973 and a full academician in 1979, he became a member of Council in 1981, and for a final time in 2014. He was Secretary of the Academy between 1983 and 1990 and Deputy President in 1982-3 and 2000-2001. He was also elected a member of the newly created RSA Foundation in 2013. From 1974 until 1988 he served as a governor of Edinburgh College of Art and from 1983 until 1996 he was a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission and was Deputy Chairman for the last two years. He was a trustee of St Andrews Preservation Trust from 2002.

Steedman was also a member of the Countryside Commission for Scotland from 1980-88, an Advisor on the Management of Mountain Areas from 1989 and chairman of the Central Scotland Woodlands Project with four Regions of Scotland involved in an attempt to create a woodland corridor between Edinburgh and Glasgow. He also served on the Council of the National trust for Scotland from 1999-2004, was a judge for the Annual Award Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland 1995-99 and the Saltire Patrick Geddes Award.

Steedman was awarded the OBE in 1997 for services to Architecture and the Built Environment. Both Morris and Steedman retired in 2002 and the practice and offices were sold to Ne Begg, which became Morris & Steedman Associates, Robert Steedman completing the commission for the new entrance, steps, ramps and porch for St Giles cathedral with that firm, for which he remains a consultant.

In semi-retirement Steedman has received a number of further honours: D.Litt. from the University of St Andrews in 2006 and D.Univ from the University of Stirling in 2011; a lifetime achievement award from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland in 2009 and a similar award in the same year from the Scottish Design Awards. He accepted the invitation to be Honorary President of the St Andrews Preservation Trust in 2014.

Robert Steedman’s marriage to Susan Scott was dissolved in 1974: they had one son and two daughters. In 1977 he married Martha Hamilton, headmistress of St Leonard’s School, St Andrews.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 338, Young Street Lane North, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate  Expanded into this as well as the office grew but in 1994 they were soly in this part.
Item 2 of 337, Young Street Lane North, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessAfter 1960  
Item 3 of 31, Albyn Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1960  

Employment and Training

Employers

The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Morris & Steedman1957 Partner 

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 70 Caravan Site, Yellowcraig, DiretonYellowcraig, Direton East LothianScotland 
Item 2 of 70(?)Esso Motor HotelErskine RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 3 of 70 Oil Tank FarmDalmeny EdinburghScotlandLandscaping to conceal oil storage tanks.
Item 4 of 701955Avisfield  EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 701958Royal High School  EdinburghScotlandProposals for science teaching rooms on the south side of Regent Road, in conjunction with John L Paterson
Item 6 of 701958Wilson HouseLasswade MidlothianScotland 
Item 7 of 70196065-67 Ravelston Dykes Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 701960Craigleith House  EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 9 of 701960Princess Margaret Rose Hospital (included clinical and nurses' training unit)  EdinburghScotlandAdditions, including Clinical Unit, lecture theatre and prosthetic department
Item 10 of 701960Sillitto House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 701961Berry House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 12 of 701961Cheyne HouseNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 13 of 701961House, St Thomas RoadGrange EdinburghScotland 
Item 14 of 701961Tigh-na-UisgeKilchrenan ArgyllScotland 
Item 15 of 701962Holden HouseEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 16 of 701963Carron House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 701963Police StationLiberton Dams EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 701964Avisfield  EdinburghScotlandFurther work - bedroom wing extension and later alteration to the garage
Item 19 of 701964Calderstone HouseEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 20 of 701964Marchwell Silverburn MidlothianScotland 
Item 21 of 701964MeadowlandPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 22 of 701964The QuarryGullane East LothianScotland 
Item 23 of 7019661 Glenlockhart Bank  EdinburghScotland 
Item 24 of 701966University of Edinburgh, Student Centre  EdinburghScotland 
Item 25 of 701966University of Stirling, Nuffield Staff HousesStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 26 of 701966University of Stirling, Nuffield Staff HousesStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 27 of 701966University of Stirling, Nuffield Staff HousesStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 28 of 701967University of Stirling, Principal's HouseStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 29 of 701968Esso Motor Hotel  EdinburghScotlandIncluded landscaping
Item 30 of 701968MinakiNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 31 of 701969Bush House, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology  MidlothianScotland 
Item 32 of 701969Christian Salvesen Offices  EdinburghScotland 
Item 33 of 70Late 1960sFlats  EdinburghScotland 
Item 34 of 701970sBraefoot Sheel Expro and Esso Chemical buildingsBraefoot FifeScotland 
Item 35 of 701970Crest HotelErskine RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 36 of 701970University of Strathclyde, Wolfson Centre (Bio-Engineering Building)  GlasgowScotland 
Item 37 of 701970Villa, 18a Queen's CrescentNewington EdinburghScotland 
Item 38 of 70c. 1970House for Peter BalfourHumbie East LothianScotland 
Item 39 of 701971Almondell Footbridge, Almondell Country Park  West LothianScotland 
Item 40 of 701971Countryside Commission visitor centreBattleby PerthshireScotland 
Item 41 of 701971General Accident office  EdinburghScotland 
Item 42 of 701971Lin's MillKirkliston West LothianScotlandConversion to house
Item 43 of 701972Barend House and holiday cottagesSandyhills DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 44 of 701972Perth WaterworksPerth PerthshireScotlandConversion to tourist information centre
Item 45 of 701976Macvitties Guest & Co / McVities Guest & Co shop and tea room  EdinburghScotlandFront wall taken down and rebuilt with new dormer
Item 46 of 701976MeadowlandPerth PerthshireScotlandAdditions
Item 47 of 701976Mossmorran, Shell office building and petrochemical worksMossmorran FifeScotlandOffice
Item 48 of 70c. 1976Holiday villageDalbeattie KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 49 of 701977Gigha HotelArdminish ArgyllScotlandRear wings
Item 50 of 701977WoodcoteFala MidlothianScotlandFrom 1977.
Item 51 of 701980Bush House, Institute of Terrestrial Ecology  MidlothianScotlandPitched roof added
Item 52 of 701981Mossmorran, Shell office building and petrochemical worksMossmorran FifeScotlandPetrochemical works, administration building, including landscaping around complex
Item 53 of 70Before 1981Balerno village centreBalerno EdinburghScotlandRestoration and pedestrianisation of village in particular the Conservation Area
Item 54 of 70Before 1981Housing developments for Bovis   Scotland 
Item 55 of 70Before 1981IBM office  GlasgowScotlandInterior design and layout
Item 56 of 701982Peebles Swimming PoolPeebles    
Item 57 of 701984Dental Hospital  EdinburghScotlandProposed
Item 58 of 701986St Leonard's School for Girls, Music SchoolSt Andrews Fife  
Item 59 of 701988Muir of BleboBlebocraigs FifeScotland 
Item 60 of 701990sFlats, St Patrick's Square  EdinburghScotland 
Item 61 of 701990sHouse for Mr and Mrs Robin Young  EdinburghScotland 
Item 62 of 701990sHouse for the Earl of Haddo  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 63 of 701990sScotland's Lighthouse MuseumFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotlandReconstruction from ruined lighthouse
Item 64 of 701990s(?)St Leonard's School, 6th Form HouseSt Andrews Fife  
Item 65 of 701990sTaychreggan HotelLoch Awe Argyll Scotland 
Item 66 of 701990sThainstone, officesInverurie AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 67 of 701994House of FormartineHaddo AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 68 of 701995Kinnaird Head Castle and LighthouseKinnaird Head AberdeenshireScotlandMuseum of Scottish Lighthouses
Item 69 of 701997Garvald Home FarmGarvald West LothianScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 70 of 702004Corrour  Inverness-shireScotlandComplex of ancillary buildings refurnished or rebuilt (s of Lodge)

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Pressp131
Item 2 of 4Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp32, p160 Avisfield
p115-124 Chapters 'The Censorship of Neglect: Morris & Steedman's Private Houses' and 'Morris & Steedman and the 'Small Scottish House''
Item 3 of 4Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp96
Item 4 of 4Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p14-15, p18-21 Principal's House
p15, p17 Countryside Commission visitor centre
p17 Countryside Commission Centre
p42-3 University of Edinburgh Student Centre
p24-7 Private House - James Shepherd Morris

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Prospect 135 p50 (Article on Robert Steedman).
Item 2 of 3RIAS Annual Report2009  Date of Award from RIAS. Therefore probably date of annual report
Item 3 of 3RIAS Quarterly2010 Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)Spring. pp30-34. Interview with Robert Steedman.