Was born at Thornliebank, Renfrewshire, Scotland and was educated in Glasgow. In 1874 he entered the office of James Thomson, FRIBA, of Baird & Thomson in Glasgow as a pupil. On completion of articles he remained another four years in this office as Improver. For about a year, 1879-80, he worked in the office of W Hayne, FRIBA, in Dublin before returning to Scotland where he worked for A Scobie, Dunfermline, as assistant. He returned to Glasgow (1880-81) and worked in the office of W Leiper, FRIBA. In 1881 he married and came to South Africa where he first went to Durban as assistant Borough Engineer and Surveyor, and remained there for six years. In 1887 he left for Johannesburg. He was thus among the first architects in that town and was subsequently eligible to rank as a Rand Pioneer.
He entered into partnership with AH REID (cf. REID & McCOWAT) with whom he designed the second Rand Club c1888/9. He set up independent practice in about 1897 and continued to practise on his own account until his retirement. On a few occasions he worked in association with GAH DICKSON around 1904-1906, with whom he apparently co-designed His Majesty's Theatre. He apparently also co-designed the Empire Theatre, Johannesburg with McINTOSH & MOFFAT. McCOWAT and DICKSON came second in the competition for the Transvaal University College (1907). McCowat appears to have died in Johannesburg.
There is also a listing of this practitioner on the Dictionary of Scottish Architects.
Mem SA Assn Eng & Archts 1883; FRIBA Jhb 1898; FRLI; CE. (FRIBA nom papers (1898); Longland's Jhb & SAR dir 1897; Longland's Tvl dir 1905; RIBA Jnl 1924-25:240 death notice; SAAR Mar 1925:2-5; SAAR Feb 1947:45; SAWW 1916)
All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.
Books citing McCOWAT