Basic Biographical Details

Name: (Professor) Ralph Cowan
Born: 3 May 1917
Bio Notes: (Professor) Ralph Cowan was born on 3 May 1919. He studied full-time at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art from 1933 to 1939. At some point during this period he spent a year gaining professional experience in the office of T P Marwick & Son, and he spent a month sketching in the Cotswolds in 1935 and another in France (Provence and Vaucluse) in 1938. He was a Rome Scholar in 1939, using the scholarship to prepare for a course in Town Planning. In the same year he took his professional practice exam, having secured an exemption from the RIBA final exam. He was admitted ARIBA on 16 July 1940, his proposers being Alfred Hugh Mottram, Frank Charles Mears and Alex Allan Foote. He was also AMTPI by 1950 and FRIAS in 1953. In the latter year he was Athens Bursar.

In 1948 Cowan joined Alan Reiach in a single-project partnership to design the new College of Agriculture at the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings site. During the 1940s and 1950s he was also a member of staff of Edinburgh College of Art. In the early 1950s he carried out the duties of the Head of Architecture School before being formally appointed Head of School and Professor at ECA in October 1955, with effect from 1 January 1956. Under Cowan, the ECA course was restructured as a 'sandwich' programme with full-time years flanking part-time study.

Cowan contributed a short history of the Edinburgh Architectural Assocation for the Centenary Year Book 1957. He was a vice-president of the Edinburgh Architectural Association in 1959. By 1964 he was practising as Ralph Cowan & Associates.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 618, Moston Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate(?)1950 *  
Item 2 of 610, Middleby Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1953  
Item 3 of 6School of Architecture, Edinburgh college of Art/1, Melville Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1964 *  
Item 4 of 6School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1970  
Item 5 of 6Lindon Park, by Hawick, Roxburghshire, ScotlandPrivate1979 *  
Item 6 of 6Dun-Ard Garden/ 3/3 , Grange Loan, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1987 *2010Still at this address 2010

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Reiach & Cowan  Partner 
Item 2 of 3T P Marwick & Son19331939Assistant(?)one year during studies
Item 3 of 3Ralph Cowan & AssociatesBefore 1964 Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Alexander Allan Foote16 July 1940for Associateship
Item 2 of 3(Sir) Frank Charles Mears16 July 1940for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Alfred Hugh Mottram16 July 1940for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This 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 41948University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Department of Agriculture  EdinburghScotlandIn association with Alan Reiach
Item 2 of 41952Local Centre, WhitemossEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotland 
Item 3 of 41955Cottage near Pencaitland Pencaitland East LothianScotland 
Item 4 of 41961Edinburgh College of Art, Architecture Building  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 7Glendinning, Miles2008Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew RIBA Publishingp38,135,147,150,152,455
Item 2 of 7RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 7RIBA1954RIBA Kalendar 1953-54   
Item 4 of 7RIBA1964The RIBA Kalendar 1963-64   
Item 5 of 7RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   
Item 6 of 7RIBA1979Directory of members   
Item 7 of 7RIBA1987RIBA Directory of Members 1987   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder3 May 1957  p802
Item 2 of 3Builder1 May 1959  'Edinburgh Architectural Association' p832
Item 3 of 3Builder28 April 1961  'Edinburgh Architectural Association: A Lively 1961 Year Book' p830; the year book includes an article on the new architecture building at ECA

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership  
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no7622 (combined box 196)