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MacDONALD, William Archibald [Archy]

Born: 1902 02 04
Died: 1979 04 26


Reg No: 771
Year registered: 1941

FRIBA 1948

Was born at Castle Bay on the island of Barra in Scotland the son of Angus Macdonald, inspector of poor, and his wife, Maggie MacLean who were married in North Uist in 1893. He studied architecture at Glasgow School of Art from 1920 or 1922 (sources vary) and apprenticed to H & D Barclay, architects, in Glasgow from 1920 until 1925, under the direct supervision of Colin Sinclair, FRIBA, the senior partner. From 1925 he worked for the County Education Authority in Inverness, leaving for South Africa two years later in 1927 to lecture in building and architectural subjects at the East London Technical College. In January 1929 he resigned on being appointed temporary 1st grade architectural assistant in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pretoria. In January 1931 he was promoted to senior architectural assistant and placed on the permanent staff; in December 1935 he was re-graded assistant architect 2nd grade. In 1939 he passed the qualifying examination at the University of the Witwatersrand, was admitted to membership of the Institute of South African Architects in 1941 and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1948. In 1947 he was appointed Assistant Chief Government Architect, Public Works Department, Pretoria and by 1959 he was Chief Government Architect. He contributed several articles for the periodical Public Works in South Africa and was well-respected among his colleagues. He was responsible for the design of a number of large public buildings including the Central Government Offices in Pretoria, the General Post Office in Johannesburg and later additions, the automatic Telephone Exchange in Pretoria, the General Post Office in Bloemfontein, the Revenue Office in East London and the Government Offices in Umtata (Mthatha).

In 1955 he visited Britain on a recruiting trip, reported by the Oban Times, a Scots newspaper, proud of his Castle Bay, Barra Island connection.

His private address from 1965 to 1970 is recorded (DSA) as Kilberry, Meintjeskop, Pretoria.

He died after a short illness on 26 April 1979, his address being recorded (DSA) as PO Box 381/3, Beaconsfield, Plettenberg Bay, South Africa. He was survived by his wife, Lorna. A number of books belonging to him were left to the Public Works Department Library in Pretoria.

This architect has an entry in the Dictionary of Scottish Architects (DSA), from which additional biographical information is sourced to augment this entry.

(FRIBA nom papers (1948) 4336; ISAA mem list; Oban Times 10 Sept 1955; PSL 1934; RIBA biog file)

Publ: Johannesburg Post Office: Story of the east wing extension, PWSA Dec 1938:36-39 ill; Automatic Telephone Exchange for Pretoria, Vermeulen St, PWSA Jan 1939:33-8; Central Government Offices, Pretoria, PWSA Feb 1939:12-27, ill plan; Our National Zoological Garden, PWSA Mar 1939:25-9.

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Andrew Geddes Bain Memorial: 1964. Ecca Pass, Makhanda (Grahamstown), Eastern Cape - Architect 1964
Battle of Draaibosch Memorial: 1957. Komgha, Eastern Cape - Architect

Books citing MacDONALD

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 93, 196

ISAA. 1969. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1968-1969 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1968-1969. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 97, 141

SAWW & Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd. 1958. South African Who's Who 1958 : An illustrated biographical sketch book of South Africans with separate sections for the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and South West Africa. Johannesburg: Ken Donaldson (Pty) Ltd. pp 385