Obituary: Iain Wylie, award-winning architect and Executive Director at Austin-Smith:Lord

Iain William Wylie, BArch (Hons), DipArch, FRIAS, RIBA, architect. Born, 1 December, 1963. Died: 13 May, 2022, aged 58

Iain Wylie was a very highly respected and prolific architect with a reputation as a talented and versatile designer, a business leader and an advocate for design quality. Iain was a great friend to many within and beyond the design and construction professions in Scotland and further afield, respected for his kindness, integrity and professionalism.

Iain was instrumental in establishing and leading Austin-Smith:Lord in Scotland as well as being responsible for many of the Practice’s signature projects, especially north of the Border.

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In recognition of his contribution to the profession Iain became a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland in 2014. Iain’s design work was recognised with national design awards throughout his career. He was also a Partner when Austin-Smith:Lord were awarded the prestigious Architects’ Journal’s AJ100 Practice of the Year in 2010.

Iain Wylie won national award recognition in each decade of his career

Iain studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art. His talent was apparent from the outset, winning a Scholarship in 1986, the first of many accolades in a career characterised by enduring excellence.

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During his studies he completed his first professional training period at the acclaimed Irvine Development Corporation Architects Department. After completing his studies Iain worked at the Property Services Agency, initially with the flagship Design Standards Office in London before returning to Scotland.

Iain then returned to Irvine Development Corporation in the early 1990s and was Project Architect on several award-winning projects within Irvine New Town, notably at Irvine Harbourside. Initially as a secondee from Irvine Development Corporation, Iain then joined Scottish Enterprise and Locate in Scotland before progressing to becoming an Associate with TPS Consult.

Having had two highly successful spells at Irvine Development Corporation, Iain had forged a strong personal and professional bond that endured for the rest of his life with his great friends and mentors; George Wren, Roan Rutherford and George Reynolds. In 1998 Iain established Wren Rutherford Austin-Smith:Lord with these former colleagues as a joint venture with Austin-Smith:Lord, whose work they greatly admired.

Iain thrived in this new venture and became a Partner with Austin-Smith:Lord when Wren Rutherford fully merged into the wider practice in 2003. Iain led the Austin-Smith:Lord team in Ayr and then Glasgow to grow to more than 25 strong within a decade, doing fine work across the country and fostering great camaraderie within a creative studio environment.

Iain’s career and stature in the practice progressed rapidly as he not only delivered signature projects but also elevated the profile of Austin-Smith:Lord, especially in Scotland, and took on significant roles in leading the business, notably as a characteristically prudent and shrewd Finance Partner. He led the practice as Chair of Austin-Smith:Lord from 2014 til 2020.

Iain was self-effacing and modest, and whilst he characteristically played down his skill and ability it shone through in his work, time and again. In each decade of Iain’s career his work won national award recognition including from the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the British Council of Offices, the British Urban Regeneration Awards, the Saltire Society, Scottish Design Awards, Building Better Healthcare Awards, NHS Scotland Design Awards and the Glasgow Institute of Architects.

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These awards were given for a diverse array of projects including housing and industrial projects in Irvine, an office development in Kilwinning, a pioneering landmark super-distillery at Roseisle in Moray, housing at Fettes in Edinburgh, Girvan Community Hospital in South Ayrshire and Migdale Community Hospital at Bonar Bridge in the Highlands.

In addition Iain was also involved in masterplanning hospitals and enterprise zones, waterfront masterplans on the Rivers Clyde and Forth, developing a vision for the Crichton campus in Dumfries, Wellington School campus in Ayr, historic buildings at Gartnavel, numerous projects at Quarriers care village, numerous local health centres across Scotland from Dalkeith to Drongan, a pioneering health and community hub in Kilmarnock, schools in Glasgow and Ayrshire, new workplace environments for Hewlett Packard, a University Library in Dundee, a massive energy centre at Severnside near Bristol, light industrial units near Galashiels and even designing a space-port facility and more besides.

Iain’s final project was for Ayrshire Hospice. It was the perfect job for him; to design a beautiful, caring environment for people in the area he loved. Given his passion for healthcare design he was thrilled to be leading that project and it is hoped that, when realised, it will be a fitting legacy for a kind and caring man and a very talented architect.

Iain had an easy charm, quick wit and keen interest in others. Iain’s easy-to-like and affable demeanour meant he was equally at ease in the company of anyone, from any walk of life. Iain simply enjoyed being with other folk and designing fine buildings for them; taking the greatest pleasure in seeing great designs well built, having a positive impact and being enjoyed in use.

Beyond his skill and talent as an architect and designer Iain was also an accomplished sportsman, playing football semi-professionally and enjoying many other sports as a participant or spectator. A proud Scot, he had a love of international travel but was always happiest at home in Ayrshire enjoying life as a great family man with his beloved wife Janet, their daughter Jemma and son Ross, amongst his wider family and many friends.


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