Isi Metzstein, ‘one of most influential post-war UK architects’, dies aged 83

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TRIBUTES have been paid to one of Scotland’s leading post-war architects, who has died at the age of 83.

Berlin-born Isi Metzstein was a German refugee who moved to Scotland when he was just 11 and later studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art.

He joined the Glasgow architectural firm Gillespie, Kidd & Coia as an 18-year-old apprentice and later took over the practice with co-partner Andy Mac- Millan. The firm was to rise to international prominence in the 1960s when it designed a series of churches, schools and colleges. Many buildings were for the Catholic Church, most notably St Peter’s Seminary, at Cardross, near Glasgow. The practice also went on to design projects for the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Hull.

Metzstein taught for many years at Glasgow School of Art, whose current director, Professor Seona Reid, led tributes to the former architect yesterday.

She said: “Gillespie, Kidd & Coia’s work under the visionary leadership of Isi Metzstein and Andy MacMillan represents one of the most significant and influential contributions to post-war British architecture.

“It is not, however, just through the remarkable physical legacy that Isi’s reputation will live on, but through the generations of architectural students whom he inspired. Isi Metzstein was a great architect, a remarkable teacher, and above all a very special person who will be greatly missed.”

Angela Brady, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, said Metzstein would be remembered “fondly, both as a great architect and educator who was known to be outspoken and had great courage and colour”.

She added: “He was part of the group that changed the studio culture to create a free and easy exchange between students and tutors, moving away from a more controlled education.”

Neil Gillespie, design director at Edinburgh-based Reiach and Hall Architects, described Metzstein as “the conscience of the architectural profession in Scotland to all those who engaged with him”.