Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Duncan Ian Black |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||2 May 1922 |
|Died: ||17 September 1995 |
|Bio Notes: ||Duncan Ian Black was born on 2 May 1922, the son of Finlay Kerr Black, land surveyor, and his wife Florence Maude Phipps. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art. His architectural training was interrupted by war service from 1941 when he joined the Bomber Command as a navigating officer. He was shot down in 1943 and spent the next two years in the Stalag Luft III. |
During this time he put his superb drafting skills to excellent use, leading a team of forgers who produced hundreds of passports, travel passes and other documents. He and his team struggled for lack of paper and were challenged to copy the official Nazi rubber stamp (which they did painstakingly by hand). Even with working in poor light and with the most basic equipment, the documents they produced were done so well that they could not be distinguished from the real thing. The forgers also produced civilian clothes and Nazi uniforms from shabby prison clothes. He played a central role in two of the most infamous escapes of the Second World War, the Wooden Horse and the Great Escape. Though he was scheduled to take part himself in the Great Escape, he had to relinquish his place as he fell ill a few days before it took place. He remained in prison until May 1945 when he was liberated by American troops.
On his return to Edinburgh Black briefly pursued a career in acting but decided to complete his architectural training. He returned to Edinburgh College of Art. He was an outstanding student and was awarded the Rome Scholarship in 1952. He spent two years in Rome as postgraduate but returned home and joined the Ministry of Works in 1954. He moved to the Scottish Office two years later. [N.B. David ross states that Black worked with him at the Ministry in 1957]. He moved quickly up the career ladder and was appointed deputy chief architect in 1970, a post which he continued to hold until his retirement in 1982. During this period he worked under Chief Architect Bruce Beckett.
During his career he made an important contribution to the development of the New Towns in Scotland, including Glenrothes and Irvine. He had a particular interest in housing and had a long and fruitful association with the Saltire Housing Award Scheme.
Outwith his work Black had wide and varied interests and creative talents and was a keen member of the Scottish Arts Club and of the Traverse Theatre.
He suffered a stroke in 1993. He was a retired ARIAS at the time of his death on 17 September 1995. He never married but lived with his life-long friend Maurice Guild.
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/business|| || || |
|Flat 2/1 9, Logan Street, Edinburgh, Scotland|| || ||1995|| |
|11, Pentland Crescent, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1950||After 1960|| |
|6, St Vincent Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1970 *|| || |
|Scottish Development Department/80-83, Princes Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1979 *|| || |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
|This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|Geoffrey Copcutt||7 October 1970||For Fellowship|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|RIBA||1950||The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|RIBA||1961||Kalendar 1960-61|| || || |
|RIBA||1970||RIBA Directory 1970|| || || |
|RIBA||1979||Directory of members|| || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||1 August 1952|| || ||p156-157 - shows design for 'Commonwealth House: A Government Hospitality Centre', which won the Rome Scholarship|
|Edinburgh Evening News||22 September 1995|| || || |
|Glasgow Herald||25 September 1995|| || || |
|RIAS Newsletter||1995||v6, no9|| ||Death notice|
|RIAS Newsletter||February 1996||v7, no1|| || |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|H M Register House||Death Register|| || |
|RIAS, Rutland Square||Records of membership|| || |