Lifetime award for airport’s architect

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AN architect who was behind the development of Edinburgh’s original airport – Turnhouse – has been given a lifetime achievement award.

Margaret Richards was honoured by the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

The Incorporation’s Lifetime Achievement Award is given to architects who, in the view of the council of the RIAS, have made an outstanding contribution to architecture in Scotland.

Margaret (née Brown) was born in Kingussie, the daughter of an engineer.

After a childhood which saw her family move around a lot, she enrolled at Kingston School of Architecture at the age of 16.

After graduating in 1952 she worked for two years as an architect with Powell & Moya in London, where she was the job architect for one of the slab blocks of the Pimlico Project housing development in Westminster.

In October 1954 she joined Robert Matthew’s newly established private practice in Edinburgh (later Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners).

It was initially planned that she would be mainly involved in the practice’s New Zealand House project in London but by 1955 she had already been allocated to Scottish projects, including Turnhouse Airport (1954-56) and the design of Crombie Hall for the University of Aberdeen (1955-60).

In May 1958, Margaret married her co-worker John Richards, a former RIAS President who passed away in 2003 .

Margaret and John’s first child, Alan, was born in 1959, followed by Kate in 1961, Lucy in 1965 and Jessica in 1969.

Lucy recalls a childhood full of fun and encouragement. There was never such a thing as a beach holiday. Visits to archaeological sites and ancient churches on camping trips in the South of France were the norm.

Amid the clamour of family life, Margaret managed to set up a practice on her own account in 
1964 and also later worked as an associate in the Richards practice. From 1978 she was a tutor in architectural conservation at Edinburgh College of Art.

Margaret has been a council member of the Scottish Special Housing Association and for a number of years was a member of the Cases Panel and the National Committee of the AHSS. A founding trustee and former chair of the Lothian Building Preservation Trust, she has served on the Historic Buildings Council for Scotland, the Advisory Committee on Artistic Matters of the Church of Scotland and on the International Committee for Training of ICOMOS. She sits on Historic Scotland’s Steering Group for the Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

The Award was presented by RIAS President, Iain Connelly, who said: “Margaret Richards is a remarkable architect.”