Philip Dowson

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The Metallurgy and Materials building at the University of Birmingham, designed by Philip Dowson of Arup Associates.

Sir Philip Henry Manning Dowson CBE PRA (16 August 1924 – 22 August 2014) was a leading British architect.[1][2][3] From 1993 to 1999 he served as President of the Royal Academy.[4]

Early life[edit]

Philip Dowson was born in South Africa.[5] He educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk, England, from 1938 to 1942 and then went up to University College, Oxford (where he later designed four student accommodation blocks for Stavertonia in North Oxford[6]) to read Mathematics. This was during the Second World War. After one year at Oxford, he joined the Royal Navy and remained in the service until 1947.

On leaving the Navy, Dowson proceeded to Clare College, Cambridge to study Art from 1947 to 1950 and then to the Architectural Association School, London.


From 1953, Dowson worked with the engineer Sir Ove Arup, becoming a founding partner in Arup Associates in 1963[7] and rising to be the firm's senior partner and Chief Architect in 1969.

Dowson has contributed to a large number of major projects, including new buildings for the Universities of Oxford[8] and Cambridge. He died aged 90 on 22 August 2014.[7]

National Life Stories conducted an oral history interview (C467/71) with Philip Dowson in 2002 for its Architects Lives' collection held by the British Library.[9]


Dowson also served as a Trustee of the National Portrait Gallery.[10]


  1. ^ Glancey, Jonathan (5 September 2014). "Sir Philip Dowson obituary". The Guardian.
  2. ^ "Sir Philip Dowson – obituary". Daily Telegraph. 14 September 2014.
  3. ^ "Philip Manning DOWSON". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 15 March 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b Mosley, Charles, ed. (2003). Burke's Peerage, Baronetage & Knightage, 107th edition, 3 volumes. Wilmington, Delaware, USA: Burke's Peerage (Genealogical Books) Ltd.
  5. ^ "Sir Philip Manning Dowson", Oxford Index, Oxford University Press, retrieved 13 March 2015
  6. ^ "In Memoriam: Sir Philip Manning Dowson". The Martlet. 2: 20. Winter 2014.
  7. ^ a b c d e "Philip Dowson RA". Royal Academicians – Architects. Royal Academy of Arts. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Dowson, Sir Philip Manning". Retrieved 13 March 2015.
  9. ^ National Life Stories, 'Dowson, Philip (1 of 17) National Life Stories Collection: Architects' Lives', The British Library Board, 2002. Retrieved 10 April 2018
  10. ^ "Sir Philip Manning Dowson (1924–2014), Architect and President of the Royal Academy". National Portrait Gallery, London. Retrieved 13 March 2015.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Sir Roger de Grey
President of the Royal Academy
Succeeded by
Phillip King