Listed Building

The only legal part of the listing under the Planning (Listing Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 is the address/name of site. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing – see 'About Listed Buildings' below for more information. The further details below the 'Address/Name of Site' are provided for information purposes only.

Address/Name of Site

Crew Building, University Of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Alexander Crum Brown Road, EdinburghLB44227

Status: Designated


Where documents include maps, the use of this data is subject to terms and conditions (


Date Added
Last Date Amended
Local Authority
Planning Authority
NT 26486 70627
326486, 670627


Lorimer and Matthew, 1927-29. 2-storey and basement, 7-bay, symmetrical T-plan university laboratory building. The building is harled with channelled quoins and droved ashlar dressings. There is a cill course to the 2nd floor and an eaves course.

The east (entrance) elevation has an advanced central bay with steps and curvilinear walls with cast iron lamp standards at the base. There is a keystoned and architraved segmental arch to the porch. The timber entrance doors are 2-leaf with a 4-pane fanlight. Above the porch is a round-arch single window and a wrought iron balcony incorporating a rosette motif. There is a figurative relief carving to the curvilinear Dutch gable. The north and south elevations are 10-bay with 2-bay returns, forming the T-plan. There are synthetic stone aprons between windows of 1st and 2nd storeys. The 3-bay west (rear) elevation has steps up to single door, a single window to 1st floor with synthetic stone aprons between the storeys, and a door to the centre at basement level.

The entrance elevation has timber sash and case windows in a variety of small-pane glazing patterns, principally 16- and 20-pane. The windows to rear have steel frames. Grey slate to piended roof, swept at eaves with beak skewputts. Corniced belfry with ogival roof in N side of rear roof. Cast-iron rainwater goods.

The interior was seen in 2015. The entrance hall has square-plan supporting columns. The main staircase, off-set to left of entrance hall, has synthetic stone steps, a curved, wrought-iron balustrade and handrail with twisted uprights and scroll motifs at intervals.

Statement of Special Interest

The Crew Building (former Institute of Animal Genetics) is part of an associated group of buildings for science education at the University of Edinburgh's 'King's Buildings' campus, designed and built between 1926 and 1932 by the important 20th century Scottish architectural partnership of Sir Robert Lorimer and John Fraser Matthew.

Stylistically, the buildings for the King's Buildings site by Lorimer and Matthew are designed in a paired-back classical style, fashionable for public buildings at the time. Lorimer and Matthew added Dutch-colonial and Arts and Craft features to the plain classical planning and plan form.

John F Matthew (1875 - 1955) was 'almost wholly responsible for the University's King's Buildings commissioned in 1927-29' (Dictionary of Scottish Architects). When Lorimer died in September 1929 he became sole partner. The figurative relief carving to the principal gable, depicting a child on a pedestal over a stylised fountain and a man and woman holding antique oil lamps up towards the child, is a distinctive feature of the entrance elevation. The curving, wrought iron balcony with rose motif is also distinctly in the manner of Robert Lorimer and is likely to be the work of Scottish ironwork specialist and Lorimer collaborator, Thomas Haddon. The interior entrance hall and central stair are finished to a high specification.

The 115 acre (45 hectare) area, formerly the site of West Mains Farm, on the southside of the city had been purchased in 1919 by the University for the relocation and expansion of its science departments. The sense of uncertainty during the years between the wars were felt at universities across the country, with economic austerity leading to a reduction in funding for scientific research. Increasing demand for laboratory facilities and lack of available funds led, in 1921, to the University launching an appeal for the erection of classrooms and laboratories at what was to become the King's Buildings site. In 1928 sufficient money had become available to start building the Institute of Animal Genetics, later renamed The Crew Building. The new subject of animal genetics was not widely welcomed or supported by the scientific community in Britain at the time, but it early developments in this discipline took place in Edinburgh under the Director of the Department in Animal Breeding, Francis Albert Eley Crew (1886-1973) from 1920. The Crew Building was opened in 1930 by the Professor of Physiology, Sir Edward Sharpey-Schafer. It was refurbished for Civil Engineering in the 1990s and is currently (2015) used by the School of GeoSciences. The building spans over 1,900 square metres and comprises lecture theatres, tutorial rooms, offices, a canteen and computer rooms.

Statutory Address and Listed Building Record revised in 2016. Previously Listed as 'Mayfield Road And West Mains Road, University Of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Civil And Environmental Engineering (Formerly Animal Genetics)'.



Canmore, Canmore ID: 146542. Lorimer and Matthew Collection, Ref: LOR E/212/1-22

Dictionary of Scottish Architects, 'University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Animal Breeding Research Department': [accessed 12.11.2015]

Edinburgh City Archives, Dean of Guild plans: interim 25 October 1929; final 6 December 1929.

J Gifford, C McWilliam and D Walker (1988) The Buildings Of Scotland – Edinburgh. London: Penguin Books Ltd, p.487

C McKean (1992) Edinburgh: An Illustrated Architectural Guide, London: p.197.

Birse R.M. (1994) Science at the University of Edinburgh, 1583-1993. Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh Press, p.112

About Listed Buildings

Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating sites and places at the national level. These designations are Scheduled monuments, Listed buildings, Inventory of gardens and designed landscapes and Inventory of historic battlefields.

We make recommendations to the Scottish Government about historic marine protected areas, and the Scottish Ministers decide whether to designate.

Listing is the process that identifies, designates and provides statutory protection for buildings of special architectural or historic interest as set out in the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

We list buildings which are found to be of special architectural or historic interest using the selection guidance published in Designation Policy and Selection Guidance (2019)

Listed building records provide an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building which has been identified by its statutory address. The description and additional information provided are supplementary and have no legal weight.

These records are not definitive historical accounts or a complete description of the building(s). If part of a building is not described it does not mean it is not listed. The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site which is known as the statutory address. Other than the name or address of a listed building, further details are provided for information purposes only. Historic Environment Scotland does not accept any liability for any loss or damage suffered as a consequence of inaccuracies in the information provided. Addresses and building names may have changed since the date of listing. Even if a number or name is missing from a listing address it will still be listed. Listing covers both the exterior and the interior and any object or structure fixed to the building. Listing also applies to buildings or structures not physically attached but which are part of the curtilage (or land) of the listed building as long as they were erected before 1 July 1948.

While Historic Environment Scotland is responsible for designating listed buildings, the planning authority is responsible for determining what is covered by the listing, including what is listed through curtilage. However, for listed buildings designated or for listings amended from 1 October 2015, legal exclusions to the listing may apply.

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 1997 Act. 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 subsequent legislation.

Listed building consent is required for changes to a listed building which affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest. The relevant planning authority is the point of contact for applications for listed building consent.

Find out more about listing and our other designations at You can contact us on 0131 668 8914 or at


Crew Building, University of Edinburgh King’s Buildings, entrance elevation, with stone steps and cast iron lamp standards to foreground.


Map of Crew Building, University Of Edinburgh, King’s Buildings, Alexander Crum Brown Road, Edinburgh

Printed: 18/06/2024 10:49