Malcolm Fraser Architects goes into liquidation

Architect Malcolm Fraser at the Arcadia Nursery, King's Buildings. Picture: Neil Hanna
Architect Malcolm Fraser at the Arcadia Nursery, King's Buildings. Picture: Neil Hanna
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AN award-winning architectural firm behind a number of Edinburgh’s modern buildings has gone bust.

Malcolm Fraser Architects, which established itself as one of the most prominent names in the industry over the past 22 years, fell into the hands of 
liquidators earlier this week.

Mr Fraser said the practice left a portfolio of “beautiful and important” work, but he admitted that he could not make the company financially viable.

A total of 15 staff have lost their jobs as a result of the collapse, which saw the practice’s offices on North Bridge close on Monday.

Mr Fraser said: “The work we did is beautiful and important. However we have been unable to make it profitable. I am immensely proud of what we have done over 22 years and the influence it has had.

“I hope my colleagues here, and the clients and ongoing work we had, will continue with other architectural practices.

“I, myself, will continue as an independent consultant, but will also work with other architects, including on existing, long-gestating projects.”

The firm’s latest accounts, filed with Companies House, revealed that the firm was owed £350,000 for the year to the end of February, while it had debts of £380,000.

The company is behind the Dance Base in the Grassmarket, for which it won the Stirling Prize and the Doolan award in 2002, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre on the Royal Mile.

Earlier this year, the firm won a £3.5 million contract for the conversion of the 19th-century City Observatory into an arts centre.

Mr Fraser was one of a group of Scottish architects who supported independence in September’s referendum. Explaining his decision, he spoke at the time of how he felt his primary responsibility as an architect was “to serve big business” and build “big, aggressive towers in London”.

He added: “But I believe, instead, that an architect’s primary responsibility is to society, building places where all of us can share in the wealth of Scotland’s built and natural environment, and that I share that care and concern with many.”

Many architects have raised concerns about the viability of the industry in the wake of the recession.

Scots architects took to Twitter to express their disappointment at the collapse of the firm.

“Something wrong with our profession when the brilliant Malcolm Fraser closes down his practice,” said architect Alasdair Stephen of Dualchas Architects on the Isle of Skye.

Ellis Woodman, director of the Architecture Foundation, tweeted: “Really shocked to hear about Malcolm Fraser 
Architects going into liqidation. Still so tough for UK architects outside London.”

Architectural photographer Dave Morris, who occasionally worked with Malcolm Fraser Architects, added: “Malcolm Fraser Architects were able to produce confident, well-considered, beautiful architecture that has made this city and country a better place for its presence.”

The liquidation comes just two years after Edinburgh-based rival RMJM, which created the Falkirk Wheel, fell into financial difficulties and went into receivership before being rescued by a separate company run by its owners, the Morrison family.