Keppie Turns 170

Written by
David Ross
Listed in
Posted on
26th Jan 2024

2024 is an extremely significant year for Keppie. 170 years ago, John Honeyman returned to Glasgow from London to set up a small architectural studio of his own. He was 23 years old. From this seed, his firm developed and grew into one of Scotland’s largest ever design practices; one which still bears the name of Honeyman’s first partner, John Keppie. In 2017, the current iteration of Keppie began, led by four like-minded individuals who share the same passion, ethos, and ambitions for the practice:

Fraser Low – Director
Fraser joined Keppie Henderson in 1988 as an Interior Designer. In 1998 he progressed to the role of Associate, and in 2005 became a share-holding Director. Throughout his Keppie career Fraser has been a staunch advocate of integrated interior design thinking within the work of Keppie.

“What Keppie means to me – A professional community tied together by an intricate tapestry of individual values, shared vision, and a special heritage. Keppie as a business has allowed me to travel the world, with deep participation in wide- ranging projects, where my part is strengthened by the talents of many inspiring colleagues, and construction partners I am lucky enough to collaborate with…and what stories, I have to tell! For me, leadership of Keppie is a responsibility to do more. These days ‘more’ is my part in cultural change. Nothing is more motivating than surfing our upwards trajectory. Good design is the culmination of the ideas and knowledge of many, plus the careful consideration of hundreds of tiny details – I love that Keppie has and continues to encourage me to really sweat those tiny details.”

Richard MacDonald – Director

Richard joined Keppie in 2005 and was promoted to Board Director in 2007.Richard leads all commercial projects focusing on current growth in large scale residential, leisure and live entertainment buildings and is responsible for new business generation across all sectors within the SALES Pillar.

“I’m very proud to be part of a business that has the unique ability to design and deliver high quality and complex transformational architectural projects across all building types from arenas to hospitals, from offices to schools, from residential to retail. I also really enjoy being part of a diverse, loyal, highly creative, and multi-skilled team of designers and advisors, of which many have been with the company for several decades. It is a real privilege to be part of a leadership team working with really personable team members who have passion, identity and attitude, but are also very grounded and respectful of our modest Glaswegian values. Our team ethos and collaborative atmosphere makes working for Keppie a pleasure every day and I am constantly energised and appreciative of the collective talent at work within our studio environment, we are always creating great things together.”

Peter Moran – Managing Director
Peter joined Keppie in 1989 becoming a qualified architect in 1991. In 1997 he progressed to role of Associate and in 2005 became a Board Director where he led the development of an education strategy that has seen over 40,000 children educated in Keppie designed schools.

“When I walked through the doors of Fitzroy Place on 1st August 1989 I did not think for one minute that I would still be here more than 34 years later. But what I didn’t realise at the time was that I hadn’t just started a new job – I had become part of the Keppie family. A family with a rich architectural heritage stretching back to 1854, that would ultimately reward me with so many exciting experiences and professional and personal friendships that would last to this day. Keppie has given me the opportunity to travel and experience different cultures, working on exciting projects both domestically and internationally, but the best reward by far is the talented team of people that I have worked with over 5 decades who never cease to amaze me…..and that makes me realise just how very lucky I am!”

David Ross – Director
David joined Keppie Henderson in 1988. He was appointed Associate in 1997 and has been a shareholding Director since 2001. David leads the Healthcare sector strategy which has contributed over £4bn of projects in the last 25 years.

“170 years is a momentous achievement for the business, and everyone involved with it. Reflecting on my time here demonstrates that the social and cultural impact of our work at home and abroad is breathtaking. I’m hugely proud to be part of a practice that values its people and the enormous contribution they’ve made to that legacy. During the last thirty plus years, Keppie has provided some of the greatest experiences of my life. The incredible projects, the life-long friendships, the laughs, and the tears. I’ve met and worked with extraordinary people who’ve inspired me and made me a better person. I consider myself very fortunate to be a custodian of a heritage that has positively impacted so many people.” 

The story of an architectural practice is as much the story of its people and its patrons as it is the portfolio of work. Our story is one of innovation, resilience, and trend-setting. Our predecessors set a high bar for inspiring, personable, and dynamic leadership, and we are incredibly proud to be the custodians of a rich and diverse Scottish heritage. There is barely a city or town in the country that doesn’t have a building designed by the talented people who have worked for the firm.

The Keppie of 2024 is an internationally successful, people-focused design practice. It’s not just our size or successes that keep us out in front. Design is central to every decision we make. And we make all the decisions. There’s no plc to answer to, no rules to stick to. We have the freedom to be entirely adaptable and responsive.

Throughout this year of celebration, we will be looking back on notable projects from our archives. We have commissioned an exclusive visual representation of twelve momentous buildings, and these will be published each month, along with photographs, drawings, the stories behind their commission, and some personal anecdotes.

It seems appropriate for us to begin the series with arguably the most significant building in our history, Glasgow School of Art