Rare drawings of Edinburgh landmarks go on show

Rarely seen drawings from the architect responsible for shaping Edinburgh’s celebrated cityscape will go on display in a new exhibition.

Around 40 drawings of William Henry Playfair’s practice, including some taken from the University’s archives, will be on show at the City Art Centre.


Playfair (1790-1857) designed many of Edinburgh’s most famous buildings, including the final plans for Old College and New College.

Playfair and the City is a collaborative venture between the University’s Department of Architectural History and its Centre for Research Collections, Historic Environment Scotland, and the City of Edinburgh Council.

Vision and ambition

By focusing on Playfair’s built and unbuilt proposals within Edinburgh’s city centre, the exhibition brings together drawings from Playfair’s own architectural office with paintings of some his most famous buildings.

The images follow his career from the Neo-Classical Enlightenment period to the rapidly industrialised Edinburgh of the Victorian age.

They demonstrate his vision and ambition for Edinburgh as a place of significance within the British Isles.

Free entrance

The show is curated by Dr Kirsten Carter McKee and John Lowrey from Department of Architectural History.

It runs from 11 November 2017 to 25 February 2018. Entrance is free.  

Related links

Playfair and the City

Architecture and Landscape Architecture

Centre for Research Collections