William Henry Playfair

(1790 - 1857)
William Henry Playfair Edinburgh Castle and the Proposed National Gallery Unknown


William Henry Playfair was one of the leading architects in nineteenth-century Scotland. His buildings were models of classicism, and the majority were constructed in the Greek Revival style. More than any other architect, he was responsible for Edinburgh earning its reputation as ‘The Athens of the North’. Playfair’s architecture relied on monumentality and heavy modelling of forms to emphasise light and shade. He produced numerous detailed drawings for each project, and was renowned for scrutinising the work of builders for quality and accuracy. Most of his finest buildings are in or around Edinburgh, including the Royal Institution (1822; now the Royal Scottish Academy), Royal College of Surgeons (1830–32), Donaldson's Hospital (1842), and the National Gallery of Scotland (1850–57).