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The east facade of the Old College as it currently stands.

Old College is a building of the University of Edinburgh. It is located on South Bridge, and presently houses parts of the University's administration, the University of Edinburgh School of Lawmarker, and the Talbot Rice Gallerymarker. Originally called the "New College", it was designed by Robert Adam to replace a number of older buildings.


The east facade of the University of Edinburgh facing onto South Bridge / Nicholson Street, as built in 1827.
A dome similar to Adam's original design was added in 1887.
In 1789 subscriptions were raised to fund a new university in Edinburghmarker to a plan prepared by Robert Adam, to replace an existing collection of dilapidated buildings of the University of Edinburgh, and the foundation stone was laid in November of that year for what was proposed as a building with a "First Court", giving access to professor's lodgings, followed by a Great Court, around which the main academic halls and lecture rooms would be arranged. By the end of 1791 several apartments were in use, but in the following year the death of Robert Adam and the outbreak of the Napoleonic Wars and the imposition of income tax slowed, then halted progress. In 1815 further funds were raised, and work recommenced. Plans were submitted by nine architects showing their proposals to continue the design work, with the outcome that William Henry Playfair was appointed architect in 1817. Playfair's design clove close to Adam's but combined the two courts into a single large quadrangle. By 1827 the building was virtually complete with the exception of fitting out the library, and construction of a dome which Adam had proposed at the east end of the building. This was left out as a cost saving, and the work was completed about four years later.

The dome was added in 1887, to a design by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, and funded by a donation from Gorgiemarker lawyer Robert Cox. The quadrangle was never completed, though a proposal by architects Simpson & Brown has been submitted to the University and, if funded, would see the quadrangle remodelled in a combination of grassed areas and paved terrace, acting as a venue for graduation celebrations, festival events, and as a more inviting entrance to the Talbot Rice Gallerymarker.


  1. University of Edinburgh magazine, Summer 2006

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