Since its inception in 1868, Glasgow Institute of Architects has maintained strong links with academia, although at the time of its formation, an apprenticeship and attendance at evening classes was the route by which would-be architects climbed the career ladder, and there were no dedicated schools of architecture in the city. Instead, GIA had formal links with Haldane’s Academy of the Fine Arts (later to become the Glasgow School of Art) in the form of two Trustees elected annually from Council, the first two representatives being Alexander Thomson and Campbell Douglas. By 1886, GIA were being consulted over how best to promote the study of architecture as part of the building construction classes, to which end Council devised the student prize scheme that survives today.
In 1888, GIA created a committee for the express purpose of considering the subject of technical education. Having been represented first on the College of Science and Arts, and thereafter on the Board of its successor, the Glasgow Technical College (which established a Department of Architecture and Building in 1888), GIA was well placed to draw up the curriculum circulated to all members providing guidance on the education of their apprentices and architectural students. Further encouragement was given in the form of competitions conceived by the Council of the time. Frequently, the President of the day would fund the initiative, the competitions generally being of the measured drawing type.
In 1898, the two Council committees with responsibility for student prizes and the curriculum of architectural education were merged, creating the GIA Education Committee as we know it today. Students attending the Technical College (which would in due course become Strathclyde University) were by this time eligible for awards in the same way as those attending Glasgow School of Art. This was rationalised in 1903, when the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College began to offer a joint diploma in architecture with the School of Art. A joint School of Architecture was established, with classes in construction being taught at the Technical College and classes in design at the Art School. From time to time, GIA would be consulted over the classes offered to students.
During the 1930s, the Education Committee began to embrace the notion of promoting architecture as a career, and drafted a pamphlet to be issued by RIAS to parents and schools. Since then, GIA has assisted in the production of further promotional material (including the 1990 video “So you want to be an Architect”), and until recently was active in participating in careers seminars and in the creation of competitions for school children. In the early 1990s, the committee was instrumental in establishing a short-lived scheme that allowed Third Year students from both schools of architecture to spend half a day every week in a Glasgow office, an initiative that the current committee is interested in reviving.
Nowadays, the Education Committee maintains its links with the two schools of architecture in the city through its Student Design Awards, expanded greatly to include awards and commendations given to students at every level of study. Two prizes created in honour of architects T L Watson and J B Wilson are awarded on a rotating basis to the best students in First Year. The best Final Year students are recognised with the prestigious GIA Parchment.
Much of what GIA Education Committee was initially involved in is now dealt with at RIAS level or by the two schools of architecture: the Committee is no longer consulted on matters relating to the curriculum, but does respond from time to time to queries from students or their parents. Instead, the Education Committee has taken over the remit for the Alexander Thomson Travelling Scholarship, awarded on a triennial basis in honour of the Institute’s one-time President. Further details of this competition, and its history and development, can be found elsewhere on this website.
Members of the Education Committee are always available to talk to prospective architects, and students of architecture about any aspect of their career. Contact can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org