William Henry Playfair

Architect of the University's Old College and New College buildings.

Playfair plaque


William Henry Playfair was born in London and came to live with his uncle in Edinburgh in 1794.

He built up a considerable private practice as an architect, and was engaged to lay out part of the New Town.

From 1817 to 1824 he redesigned the University's Old College building on South Bridge, having won the competition to complete what had begun in 1789.

He went on to design many other public buildings in Edinburgh, in the Gothic as well as in the classical style.

On his death, his trustees presented 5,062 of his drawings to the University, where they are held in the University Library.

The plaque

Playfair's plaque is inside the main entrance of the east facade of Old College Quad.


In honour of William Henry Playfair


Architect and designer, architect of Old College and New College, alumnus of the University

Related links

Playfair's entry in the Gazetteer for Scotland