Sir Colin St John Wilson


Sir Colin St John Wilson was an immense influential figure, not just as an architect but also as an educator, author and patron. He was commemorated as an important figure in British architecture and as the architect of the most significant public building in England, the British Library which is located in London’s King’s Cross. Construction of the building began in 1962 and was only completed in 1997 as a result of design and budget problems. His other projects include the new Pallant House gallery in Chichester, where he contributed his large modern art collection - by artists including Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, Patrick Caulfield, Walter Sickert and Eduardo Paolozzi - and he was the head architect for the Liverpool civic and social centre in 1965. Born in Cheltenham, Sir Colin St John Wilson, or Sandy as he was known, studied history at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge but eventually switched to studying architecture at Bartlett School, London, under the guidance of Sir Albert Richardson. In 1950, he was part of a group of great 20th century architects, including William Howell, Peter Smithson, Alan Colquhoun, James Stirling and Leslie Martin. Alongside his great achievements, he was also a Cambridge University professor and an educator who urged for the continuance of architectural modernism even when it was regarded as “out of fashion”. In Cambridge School of Architecture, he expanded the school with a cube made of brick. This display was seen as an influence of Le Corbusier and was demonstrated in The New Brutalism.

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