Thomas Hamilton, 1831-3, incorporating earlier clock; later conversion to art gallery 1999, Terry Farrell and Partners. Large 2 storey and basement Neo-Baroque former orphanage set onto terrace in extensive grounds off Belford Road, with prominent Tuscan portico and openwork towers. Sandstone ashlar. Large pedimented central portico; advanced end blocks.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: 11 bays flanked by advanced 2-bay corner pavilions. Central steps and tetra-style portico with round arched surround and fanlight to main entrance. Large attic storey above portico, stepped with clock (originally from Netherbow Port) to centre flanked by large scrolls and urns. Moulded string course to centre at basement. Moulded cill course at ground floor. Paired moulded band courses at 1st floor. Deep corniced and consoled eaves course. Moulded architraved surrounds to windows at ground and 1st floors. Large rectangular windows at ground floor flanking main doorway with radially glazed fanlights over. Pilastered round arched surrounds at 1st floor to corner blocks, with small fielded panels beneath cills and scrolled keystones. TOWERS: pair of single stage openwork towers on corniced plinths to left (W) and right (E); set to centre of roof. Large scrolled brackets to each corner supporting octagonal columns; urns on rectangular plinths with scrolls to sides. Keystoned round arched openings with balustrade above of narrow arcaded arches, small foliate crests to centre. Columns topped by moulded rectangular plinths supporting octagonal chimney stacks with clay cans.
W (SIDE) ELEVATION: 2 storeys and basement with 3-bay centre flanked by advanced single bays. Arcaded balustrade with coped octagonal pier at ground floor to left (N), perpendicular to façade. Regular fenestration.
N (REAR) ELEVATION: regular fenestration, similar to that at S elevation; 2 large cart arched openings at ground floor flanked by smaller doorways.
E (SIDE) ELEVATION: similar to that at W elevation.
TERRACE: significant stone terracing with predominantly plain sandstone ashlar walls and urns.
Margin-paned glazing in timber sash and case windows, with some geometric glazed fanlights. Shallow pitch roof; stacks integrated into towers with modern clay cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: simple interior scheme, now in use as exhibition space. Large entrance vestibule with keystoned round arched niches to either side. Central spine corridor with coffered ceiling opens onto double height space to rear at ground floor. Dog-leg stairs to each end with sloped walls to lantern above (forming part of tower to exterior) giving onto similar arrangement of rooms at 2nd floor. Later alterations to form art gallery throughout; including the studio of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi at ground floor.
Statement of Special Interest
Outstanding example of a Neo-Baroque former orphanage with high quality architectural detailing and little later alteration changing character of the design. The plan of the building is reminiscent of the English Baroque, but the architectural detailing is predominantly Neo-Classical. The design draws inspiration from the work of Vanbrugh, which can be seen particularly in the openwork towers and the integration of the chimney stacks into the columns. The classical detailing is similar to the work of George Dance at Ashburnham, and Hamilton subtly combines these influences with elements characteristic of his own style such as the margin pane glazing. The building acts as a significant landmark with the towers particularly visible from the surrounding area. The gallery now houses a collection of modern art, including an important collection of works by Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.
The building was originally built as an orphanage and the plan form with two symmetrical sides and a stair at each end was to provide separate accommodation for boys and girls. The prominent towers form part of a ventilation system which was designed to draw fresh air through the building from vents at the ground floor. The clock was moved from a demolished building on the Netherbow Port in Edinburgh in 1764. The building was converted in 1999 by Terry Farrell architects to form the Dean Gallery. The building houses the Penrose collections and a significant bequest from Sir Eduardo Paolozzi, including a number of items from his studio.
Thomas Hamilton was a significant architect of this period, originally from Glasgow although the vast majority of his work was in Edinburgh where he was based. Hamilton was one of the key architects of the Scottish Enlightenment, and his focus on a rational plan form and well executed detailing to the exterior is characteristic of his approach. His work on the Royal High School (see separate listing) and the Burns Monument (see separate listing) on Calton Hill are significant examples of his work. The focus of the Scottish Enlightenment on Edinburgh as the 'Athens of the North' is mirrored in Hamilton's use of Greek sources including the Doric Columns on the Royal High School, which are based on the Temple of Theseus overlooking Athens.
List description revised as part of resurvey (2009).