Obituary: Doug Reid, passionate architect whose signature can be seen in Tayside and beyond

Douglas John Reid RIBA FRIAS FSAScot IHBC, architect. Born: 24 April, 1958 in Dundee. Died: l8 August, 2021 in Kirriemuir, aged 63
Architecture was more than just a career for Doug ReidArchitecture was more than just a career for Doug Reid
Architecture was more than just a career for Doug Reid

Doug Reid was one of those fortunate individuals who never really worked a day in his life.

Such was his passion for architecture, it never seemed like hard graft: it was not just his career but his hobby and a continual joy. He vowed never to give up work and instilled in his children and grandchildren his ethos that they should never opt for a job to which they were not 100 per cent committed.

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It paid off handsomely for the boy from Dundee who ended up working on an eclectic mix of prestigious projects, including alongside Prince Charles and with the team behind the iconic V&A Dundee where he was resident architect.

Reid, whose signature can be seen all over his hometown, was the son of police sergeant John Reid and his wife Ethel, a clerical officer for Dundee Corporation. Educated at the city’s Glebelands Primary and Morgan Academy, his talents in art and technical drawing were evident at secondary school where he won awards in both subjects. Sporty as well as academic, he played basketball for the academy and for the local police team.

After leaving school in 1976 he studied architecture at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, part of Dundee University, where he graduated with BSc and Bachelor of Architecture degrees and swiftly took up a post at James F Stephen Architects (JFSA), based in Glamis, where he remained for his entire career.

He completed his professional practice qualifications with the firm in 1983 and was an integral part of the operation for almost 40 years, becoming an associate in 1987 and a partner two years later – thanks to his exceptional work ethic, passion for architecture and commitment to the practice.

Over the years he began to develop a particular interest in historic buildings and their conservation, becoming accredited at advanced level in Conservation Architecture and an assessor for applicants in the field. He was also a committee member of the Dundee Institute of Architects and a director of Tayside Building Preservation Trust and the Architectural Heritage Fund as well as a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.

He led multiple projects, many well-recognised and admired in Tayside, including High Mill, Camperdown Works, the Open Gallery at Verdant Works, the Merchant’s House and Gardiner Memorial Church, Brechin.

Further afield, he worked on churches across Scotland and for the Dundee Museum of Transport Trust, the Braemar Royal Highland Society, the National Trust for Scotland and almost a dozen housing associations.

His expertise and connections also took him to Italy where he provided design services to adapt and re-invent a historic Tuscan villa outside Lucca as a five-star boutique hotel. And his conservation work led to him meeting Prince Charles, with whom he shared an enthusiasm for regenerating old buildings, when he worked on a mill project in Paisley funded by the prince.

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Reid also led JFSA’s involvement on several significant projects, including the V&A Dundee, the most dramatic change to the city’s landscape for decades, and more recently the redevelopment of Perth City Hall.

While he loved the V&A, and was both inspired by its design and proud to be involved, two other projects in particular were closest to his heart – the Maggie’s centre at Dundee’s Ninewells Hospital and the spectacular Kinloch Castle on Rum, a long-term conservation project. Originally completed in 1900 it is said to have cost the equivalent of £15 million today and once housed hummingbirds in its palm house. Owned by NatureScot, formerly Scottish Natural Heritage, and reputedly a favourite of Prince Charles, ongoing restoration work is required to protect the crumbling Victorian gem and Reid knew its every nook and cranny.

He took particular pleasure in working alongside his son Allan who also pursued a career in architecture. In addition to their son, he and wife Lynn, whom he had met and married while at university, had two daughters.

When his family was younger he was well-known in junior football circles as a committee member and then club secretary of Forfar Albion JFC, now Forfar United, where his son played. And as a mark of respect a minute’s silence was held for him at a recent Forfar United JFC fixture.

Hugely supportive of all his children, he was interested in everything that interested them and, during their studies, read every essay they ever wrote. A doting grandfather, he delighted his family when he managed to get his two eldest grandchildren into the V&A as its first visitors.

In remission from Hodgkin lymphoma, he had latterly been diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and died after a short illness but, true to his word, continued working until the end.

He is survived by his wife Lynn, children Jill, Allan and Claire and six grandchildren.


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