Basic Biographical Details

Name: Renton Howard Wood Levin (RHWL)
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: c. 1971(?)
Ended: After 2011
Bio Notes: Andrew Renton was born at 170 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline on 22 May 1917, the son of John REnton, joiner, and his wife, Margaret Downie who had married in 1915 in Dumnfermline. He attended Dunfermline High School, and studied from 1934 at Edinburgh College of Art. He secured a work placement with Sir John Burnet, Tait & Lorne in 1937-8, and then continued his ECA studies, winning a travelling scholarship that enabled him to visit Italy in 1939. He received his diploma and was admitted ARIBA in 1940.

His career was interrupted by the Second World War, during which he served for six years (1940-45) with the RAF in Africa, India and Burma. After his return, in 1946 he joined Lorimer & Matthew as assistant. Two years later he joined Basil Spence & Partners. He was taken into partnership as partner-in-charge of the firm's London office at 29 Buckingham Street (off The Strand) in 1949, working initially on housing estates in Sunbury-on-Thames. The office moved to 48 Queen Anne Street in 1952. There, Renton was architect for St Martin's Shrewsbury, Hatfield New Town, the University of Nottingham, and buildings in Liverpool, Ecclesfield, Sydenham, Basildon and Southampton.

In the ensuing years, further commissions proved difficult to come by, and Renton became increasingly burdened with the practice’s administration. He secured in his own right the commission for Thorn House, an office tower for the electrical goods manufacturer, through Jules Thorn who was a neighbour. Ostensibly a disagreement between Spence and Renton over the attribution of this design resulted in a split in the practice in 1961, but in truth the reasons would seem to be more deep-seated and more complex. Renton retained the Queen Anne Street offices and established Renton & Associates, which shortly afterwards became Renton, Howard & Wood and subsequently Renton Howard Wood Levine (later RHWL). Spence meanwhile remained at the Canonbury Place office he had opened in 1956, and opened a new office at 1 Fitzroy Square under the charge of Jack Bonnington and Gordon Collins, so that by 1964 his firm was split into three separate practices: Sir Basil Spence OM RA and Sir Basil Spence, Bonnington & Collins in London, and Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson in Edinburgh.

Major work by Renton's practice includes the Crucible Theatre at Sheffield, the Arts Centre at Warwick, and, in London, St Katherine's Dock House (1965) and the redevelopment of the St Katherine's Dock area (1978). An Edinburgh office established in 1973 under Stewart Brown produced Queen Margaret College (1973).

Renton served on the RIBA Council from 1968 to 1974. He was awarded the OBE in 1972.

He died aged 65 on 14 November 1982. His son, John Renton, followed his father into the profession, being a partner in Renton Welch Architects (latterly John Renton Architects - JRA, established in 1997). The RHWL practice still continues.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1London, England    

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Andrew Rentonc. 1971(?) Partner 


Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Sent to DSA by emailInformation from AHRC/RCAHMS Spence project per David W Walker and Clive Fenton Clive Fenton's research notes (sent July 2010)