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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ian Howie Adam Imlach
Designation: Architect
Born: 29 July 1930
Died: 3 February 2011
Bio Notes: Ian Howie Adam Imlach was born in London on 29 July 1930 and grew up in Durban, South Africa. He moved to Scotland in 1948 to study architecture at the Scott Sutherland School, Aberdeen. After graduating in 1953, he and his wife Ann travelled to Singapore, where he worked in private practice. He was elected ARIBA in 1956, and two years later the couple returned to Scotland, where Imlach took a job in the practice of James Parr before joining the staff of the School of Architecture at Duncan of Jordanstone College, Dundee, where he lectured and tutored for the rest of his working life.

He was invited to join Stuart Barron as partner in Maclaren Soutar Salmond in the late 1960s. Barron was sole partner at that time. By that stage the practice was too far down to recover, with only Barron in a three storey and basement and attic house. Circumstances soon obliged Imlach to close the practice (in 1972) and resume working from home.

At the date of closure very few of the practice drawings had survived. A card index to them compiled by Soutar during the First World War survives at RCAHMS, but gives no indication of what was built anew, what was altered or which were competition drawings that may not have been successful.

Imlach did sometimes provide designs for other architects when they got commissions which were a bit beyond them, one instance being the Dundee Savings Bank in Albert Square and Meadowside. David Walker remembers dealing with this case in his role as inspector of buildings for the Scottish Development Department: 'The site was occupied by Pilkington's Eastern Club which was sadly built of poor-quality stone and it was impossible to insist on facade retention, although ten years or so later, it might just have been possible to persuade the HBC to do somehting: the list was still not statutory, or early in the process. But the Bank's architect, T Lindsay Gray, still had to get past the Royal Fine Art Commission and for that reason he asked Ian to produce both design and perspective. The RFAC was duly impressed but after that, the Dundee planners got to work on it, rearranging the elements to line up with adjoining buildings. This gave Lindsay Gray the excuse to take the design back into his hands, resulting in the commonplace building we see now'.

Outwith his professional life, Imlach's greatest passion was sailing; on his retirement in 1995, he joined the training crew of the world's largest training vessel, the 'Sedov', and took part in the Tall Ships Race that year. A keen supporter of and fundraiser for the RNLI, he was also an enthusiast for large classic cars. He owned one himself and spent much of his spare time keeping it in repair. David Walker adds: 'he was very tall and great fun to be with'.

Ian Imlach died in Kuala Lumpur on 3 February 2011. His wife Ann had predeceased him in September 2010 and he had moved to Kuala Lumpur to be with his family. He is survived by his daughter and grandchild.

Two reminiscences of Ian Imlach: "Ian was a colleague and friend at the School of Architecture.
He was a very good designer and the building of his which I know best is the house which he designed for his family [11 Victoria Road, West Ferry] and in which they lived happily for so many years.

The house is a very good example of the Modernist Style which emanated from the west coast of the USA in 1950's onwards. I believe that Ian had studied and had been influenced by the works of Richard Neutra and also the Usonian houses of Frank Lloyd Wright....The house shows this influence but is an original work and is an extremely fine example of 'place making' within the context of a relatively open plan. The hearth, fireplace and surrounding built-in seating in the living area is very well considered and widely appreciated by fellow architects, most notably by the visiting distinguished Dutch architect, Herman Hertzberger.

One of Ian's interests was the relationship of a building to its landscape setting, a subject upon which he lectured, and which he had also shown by example in the design of his own house.....His students will also be grateful to Ian for his guidance in the area of detail design, this again, was a subject about which he possessed considerable knowledge and design skill."

"Ian had an intuitive design skill which allowed him to understand student design problems and open the way for fruitful developments in design. I joined the staff in 1968 when Ian was already established as tutor to senior students and I understood that he had worked in the Far East before coming back to Scotland. I believe that he worked for the very progressive firms of Raglan Squire & Partners together with James Cubitt & Partners who I recall were involved in new university work in Malaya and Burma. I am not sure that he worked for architects in Scotland on his return, before teaching. He was a fellow student with Jimmy Paul in Aberdeen School of Architecture.
I recall the local practice which you specify and think that he converted mill buildings into bowling alleys."

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 6London, EnglandPrivate1930Before 1948Place of birth
Item 2 of 6Durban, South AfricaPrivateAfter 19301948Growing up
Item 3 of 6Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19481953While studying
Item 4 of 6SingaporePrivate/business19531958In private practice
Item 5 of 6132a, Nethergate, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1960 * James Parr's office
Item 6 of 611, Victoria Road, West Ferry, Dundee, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1970 *After 1979 

* 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 2James Reginald Parrc. 1958 Assistant 
Item 2 of 2Maclaren Soutar SalmondLate 1960s1972Partner 

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 31962Villa, 11 Victoria RoadWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 2 of 31968Villa, Roseangle  DundeeScotlandConversion of ground floor to Dundee Arts Centre
Item 3 of 31978Dundee Synagogue  DundeeScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3http://www.dhet.org.uk http://www.dhet.org.uk   
Item 2 of 3RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   
Item 3 of 3RIBA1979Directory of members   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Dundee Courier and Advertiser5 February 2011  Death notice
Item 2 of 2RIAS Quarterly2011SpringRoyal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)p.97: obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Iain Flett, Dundee City ArchivistEmail to Yvonne Hillyard Sent February 2011
Item 2 of 3Information sent to Yvonne HillyardRecollections of David M Walker Sent May 2011
Item 3 of 3School of Architecture, Garthdee, Aberdeen, RGIT: former pupils, 1937-1970Galletly, James  


© All rights reserved.  courtesy of RIAS 

© All rights reserved. courtesy of RIAS