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Schoolhill and Blackfriars Street, Art Gallery Including War Memorial and Cowdray Hall, Robert Gordon's College Archway and Former Gray's School of Art

A Category A Listed Building in Aberdeen, Aberdeen

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Coordinates

Latitude: 57.1482 / 57°8'53"N

Longitude: -2.1027 / 2°6'9"W

OS Eastings: 393884

OS Northings: 806372

OS Grid: NJ938063

Mapcode National: GBR SBS.YJ

Mapcode Global: WH9QQ.NLXG

Entry Name: Schoolhill and Blackfriars Street, Art Gallery Including War Memorial and Cowdray Hall, Robert Gordon's College Archway and Former Gray's School of Art

Listing Date: 12 January 1967

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 354419

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB19978

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Aberdeen

County: Aberdeen

Town: Aberdeen

Electoral Ward: George St/Harbour

Traditional County: Aberdeenshire

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Description

Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, 1885 with 1905 sculpture court to Art Gallery and 1925 War Memorial and Cowdray Hall (see Notes). Outstanding, 2-storey block of Rennaissance-style buildings constructed in distinctive polished, grey granite ashlar with pink Correnie granite dressings and detailing linked by vehicular arch. Moulded base course; rock-faced rusticated course rising to cill-course; moulded blocking course; plain ashlar freize; moulded cornice. Architraved and corniced, astragalled fixed-pane windows run length of ground floor with decorative roundels above.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: S (principal) ELEVATION: 14-bay Art Gallery and 7-bay former School of Art linked by semi-elliptical arch form a continous run facing Schoolhill. Art Gallery with full-height engaged Corinthian columns flanking round-arched entrance with 2-leaf timber door; columns flanked by channelled pilasters; dentiled pediment above. Former School of Art has similar entrance bay arrangement with further pair of Corinthian columns replacing channelled pilasters. Arch (leading to Robert Gordon's College ' see separate listing) with channelled pilasters, tripartite fixed-pane linking corridor above with scrolled and arched pediment and fine, ornamental cast-iron gates and gate-piers with crown-finialled lanterns.

SW CORNER ELEVATION: Grey granite ashlar with curved quadrant colonnade and wide entrance doors to Cowdray Hall at outer quadrant bays flanked by Corinthian pilasters; dentiled architrave; garland and swag details. Steps at central quadrant area surround plinth with lion sculpture by W McMillan. W (Blackfriars Street) ELEVATION: Grey and pink granite as above. Blind portico to centre with shallow Corinthian pilasters flanked by broad sections of full-height channelled rustication. Windows to outer bays flanked by channelled pilasters.

Predominantly fixed multi-pane windows. Grey slate. Multi-pitched roof with broad multi-pane rooflights to N, S, E and W. Large oval cupola to central sculpture court of Art Gallery; fluted copper dome to War Memorial. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: Art Gallery: fine central sculpture court with bifurcated stair of black and white marble. Distinctive colonnaded sculpture court with columns of different coloured granite. Above, balustraded balconey. 1959 James McBey Print Room linked to main gallery at NE re-entrant angle. War Memorial: octagonal court rising to balustraded circular balcony at first floor; giant, arched recesses rise to domed ceiling. Cowdray Hall: curving, stepped stage area with pneumatic pipe organ; colonnaded mezzanine to rear; oak panelled dado. Doric-columned basement level with geometric plasterwork ceiling. Decorative cast-iron balustrades to hallway stairs; predominantly original brass fixtures. Timber-boarded cloak room with drop-leaf counter. Former Gray's School of Art: balustraded, bifurcated staircase at main entrance hall.

Statement of Interest

Aberdeen's Art Gallery is widely considered to be one of the most successful examples of its type in Scotland. The use of pink and grey granite is unusual and this complex of buildings, by one of the city's most renowned architects adds significantly to the streetscape. According to Mackenzie's apprentice, Herbert Hardy Wigglesworth, a visit to Italy circa 1883 inspired the adoption of a two colour treatment, apparently in deference to the use of sandstone and brick dressings of Simpson's Triple Kirk opposite (of which only the spire and East Free Church sections survive). This colour contrast extended to the neo-Georgian villas he designed in the 1890s.

The sculpture court at the Art Gallery was added by Mackenzie in 1905 using various types of granite mostly derived from local quarries including Rubislaw, Kemnay and Correnie. The principal gallery spaces have been restored following original designs by Mackenzie

The War Memorial and Cowdray Hall (by Mackenzie and his son Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie) were outlined before World War I but not carried out, and with alteration to the original design, until 1923-5. Both buildings are currently only accessible via the Art Gallery. The War Memorial interior is a particularly fine example of Neo-Classical work of the period. The quadrant corner was originally intended as a setting for an Edward VII memorial statue but due to the late building date, it instead received a stylised lion sculpture by W McMillan.

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