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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.


Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 12/01/1967


  • Local Authority: Aberdeen
  • Planning Authority: Aberdeen
  • Burgh: Aberdeen

National Grid Reference

  • NGR: NJ 93884 6372
  • Coordinates: 393884, 806372


Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, 1885 with 1905 sculpture court to Art Gallery and 1925 War Memorial and Cowdray Hall (see Notes). Outstanding, 2-storey block of Rennaissance-style buildings constructed in distinctive polished, grey granite ashlar with pink Correnie granite dressings and detailing linked by vehicular arch. Moulded base course; rock-faced rusticated course rising to cill-course; moulded blocking course; plain ashlar freize; moulded cornice. Architraved and corniced, astragalled fixed-pane windows run length of ground floor with decorative roundels above.

FURTHER DESCRIPTION: S (principal) ELEVATION: 14-bay Art Gallery and 7-bay former School of Art linked by semi-elliptical arch form a continous run facing Schoolhill. Art Gallery with full-height engaged Corinthian columns flanking round-arched entrance with 2-leaf timber door; columns flanked by channelled pilasters; dentiled pediment above. Former School of Art has similar entrance bay arrangement with further pair of Corinthian columns replacing channelled pilasters. Arch (leading to Robert Gordon¿s College ¿ see separate listing) with channelled pilasters, tripartite fixed-pane linking corridor above with scrolled and arched pediment and fine, ornamental cast-iron gates and gate-piers with crown-finialled lanterns.

SW CORNER ELEVATION: Grey granite ashlar with curved quadrant colonnade and wide entrance doors to Cowdray Hall at outer quadrant bays flanked by Corinthian pilasters; dentiled architrave; garland and swag details. Steps at central quadrant area surround plinth with lion sculpture by W McMillan. W (Blackfriars Street) ELEVATION: Grey and pink granite as above. Blind portico to centre with shallow Corinthian pilasters flanked by broad sections of full-height channelled rustication. Windows to outer bays flanked by channelled pilasters.

Predominantly fixed multi-pane windows. Grey slate. Multi-pitched roof with broad multi-pane rooflights to N, S, E and W. Large oval cupola to central sculpture court of Art Gallery; fluted copper dome to War Memorial. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: Art Gallery: fine central sculpture court with bifurcated stair of black and white marble. Distinctive colonnaded sculpture court with columns of different coloured granite. Above, balustraded balconey. 1959 James McBey Print Room linked to main gallery at NE re-entrant angle. War Memorial: octagonal court rising to balustraded circular balcony at first floor; giant, arched recesses rise to domed ceiling. Cowdray Hall: curving, stepped stage area with pneumatic pipe organ; colonnaded mezzanine to rear; oak panelled dado. Doric-columned basement level with geometric plasterwork ceiling. Decorative cast-iron balustrades to hallway stairs; predominantly original brass fixtures. Timber-boarded cloak room with drop-leaf counter. Former Gray¿s School of Art: balustraded, bifurcated staircase at main entrance hall.

Statement of Special Interest

Aberdeen¿s Art Gallery is widely considered to be one of the most successful examples of its type in Scotland. The use of pink and grey granite is unusual and this complex of buildings, by one of the city¿s most renowned architects adds significantly to the streetscape. According to Mackenzie¿s apprentice, Herbert Hardy Wigglesworth, a visit to Italy circa 1883 inspired the adoption of a two colour treatment, apparently in deference to the use of sandstone and brick dressings of Simpson's Triple Kirk opposite (of which only the spire and East Free Church sections survive). This colour contrast extended to the neo-Georgian villas he designed in the 1890s.

The sculpture court at the Art Gallery was added by Mackenzie in 1905 using various types of granite mostly derived from local quarries including Rubislaw, Kemnay and Correnie. The principal gallery spaces have been restored following original designs by Mackenzie

The War Memorial and Cowdray Hall (by Mackenzie and his son Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie) were outlined before World War I but not carried out, and with alteration to the original design, until 1923-5. Both buildings are currently only accessible via the Art Gallery. The War Memorial interior is a particularly fine example of Neo-Classical work of the period. The quadrant corner was originally intended as a setting for an Edward VII memorial statue but due to the late building date, it instead received a stylised lion sculpture by W McMillan.



Scottish Country Life 'Beautiful Aberdeen: the Cowdray Hall War Memorial and Union Terrace Gardens', (July 1928) pp209; Chapman and Riley, 'The City and Royal Burgh of Aberdeen ¿ Survey and Plan (1949) p.149; W A Brogden ¿ Aberdeen, An Illustrated Architectural Guide (1986) p.29 Ranald MacInnes, Aberdeen, A guide (1992) p.156.

About Designations

Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest using the criteria published in the Historic Environment Scotland Policy Statement.

The statutory listing address is the legal part of the listing. The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Listing covers both the exterior and the interior. Listing can cover structures not mentioned which are part of the curtilage of the building, such as boundary walls, gates, gatepiers, ancillary buildings etc. The planning authority is responsible for advising on what is covered by the listing including the curtilage of a listed building. For information about curtilage see Since 1 October 2015 we have been able to exclude items from a listing. If part of a building is not listed, it will say that it is excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest in the listed building record. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

If you want to alter, extend or demolish a listed building you need to contact your planning authority to see if you need listed building consent. The planning authority is the main point of contact for all applications for listed building consent.

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Printed: 23/04/2018 14:30