William Curtis Green
William Curtis Green  was an English architect, designer and barrister who was based in London for much of his career. His works include the Dorchester Hotel, Wolseley House, New Scotland Yard, and the buildings, including the former Manor House, in Stockgrove Country Park. He was awarded the Royal Gold Medal in 1942. Around 20 of his designs are listed buildings. He is the younger brother of the craftsman and furniture designer Arthur Romney Green.(16 July 1875 – 26 March 1960)
Born in Hampshire, Curtis Green studied architecture in West Bromwich and Birmingham. He became articled to John Belcher and trained at the Royal Academy Schools. Curtis Green took up his own practice in 1898 and was soon in demand. His first commissions included several power stations and small houses. He became an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1903. He took part in the Romford Garden Suburb exhibition in 1910, where he built two dwellings. This enabled him to showcase his talents. One of the buildings won a first prize for garden design, and the other was entered into the Class I category for being one of the best homes in the development.
In 1921 he designed 160 Piccadilly for the Wolseley Motor Company to use as a showroom, and for which he was awarded a RIBA bronze medal. Several years later, he was commissioned by Barclays Bank to build several offices, including the refurbishment of 160 Piccadilly, which they had bought from Wolseley. His projects were now becoming grander in size. Curtis Green was elected as an associate of the Royal Academy in 1923, and became a full academician ten years later.
Curtis Green was born in Alton, Hampshire, and was the second son to Fredric Green, a barrister, and his wife Maria Heath Curtis. His elder brother, Arthur, was a craftsman and furniture designer who had his own workshop in Christchurch, Hampshire. William was educated at Newton College, Devon, and studied mechanical engineering, an industry in which he intended to work, at West Bromwich Technical School. On advice of his principle at West Bromwich, he took up architectural studies at the Birmingham School of Art. From there, he became articled to John Belcher and trained at the Royal Academy School under R. Phené Spiers. Green joined the staff of The Builder in 1897, briefly, and visited many countries in order to develop his skills in architecture. He became an Associate Member of the Royal Academy of Arts in 1903.
Curtis Green took up his own practice in 1898 and was soon in demand. His first commissions included several power stations, including those at Bristol (1899) and Chiswick (1904), with the former being described by Historic England, as his finest design. He also designed the building used for the Painswick Institute in 1907. He was elected fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) two years later.
In 1910 Curtis Green went into partnership with London-based architects Dunn & Watson who frequently left him in charge of the practice. The same year, a request was made by the House and Cottage Exhibition Committee at Gidea Park, headed by the Liberal Member of parliament John Burns, for architects to take part in a new house-building competition. The object was "to provide families with a well-built, modern home, regardless of class or status", and "to bring the towns into the country, and the country into the towns", but it was also a chance for competing architects to showcase their talents. Curtis Green designed two properties for the competition; one, a Class II cottage, and a Class I house, 43 Heath Drive, for which he received £25 for the garden design. When his friend Edwin Lutyens went to New Delhi to build the Rashtrapati Bhavan in 1912, he asked Curtis Green to take charge of his office while he was away. The opportunity allowed Curtis Green to build upon his understanding of how to conduct large works in a grand manner.
In 1927 Barclays Bank commissioned Curtis Green to design a series of buildings for them, starting with the conversion of 160 Piccadilly, which he had designed seven years previously for the Wolseley Motor Company, and for which, in 1922, he was awarded a RIBA bronze medal. At around the same time as the construction of 160 Piccadilly, Curtis Green was asked by the National Westminster to build them a new Piccadilly branch, which was to be located directly opposite. Situated on a corner plot, like his neighbouring project, it too was built of Portland stone. [n 1] Other structures in Piccadilly followed, including the Westminster Bank in 1926, Stratton House (1929), 6 King Street, and the London Life Association building in King William Street.
In 1919 he established a partnership with his son, Christopher, and his son-in-law Antony Lloyd. Among their many buildings include the Church of All Saints in Shirley, Croydon, Their offices were based at 5 Pickering Place, St. James's Street, London.
During the last years of his career, Curtis Green allowed his son-in-law and son to conduct most of the work which he would oversee. He was instructed to build a new annex for Scotland Yard in 1935, which finished five years later. The building was constructed as a third building and an extension to the existing New Scotland Yard building, At around this time, Curtis Green also designed the Equity and Law Life Assurance Society building in Lincoln's Inn Fields (1936–7).
But it was his design of the Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane that, according to his biographer, Hubert Worthington, was his best-known building. The Dorchester came about under unusual and difficult circumstances for Curtis Green: the building was initially started by Owen Williams, and had three different architects shortly after, before Curtis Green was asked to take it on. Restricted by the already established foundations, and with just 14 months to complete the design and build, he adapted to the awkward layout and made a success of the project.
In 1942 Green was awarded the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects and was chairman of RIBA's board of architectural education. He was appointed as the president of the Architectural Association, a member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission, and an officer of the Académie Française. He served the Artists' General Benevolent Institution for 38 years.
Retirement and death
Curtis Green died at his address in Pall Mall, London, on 26 March 1960. A memorial to him lies in St James's Church, Piccadilly. His estate was worth £93,921. [n 2] His son, Christopher, and son-in-law, Antony Lloyd, continued the family practice, Green, Lloyd, and Adams, after Curtis Green's death.
Curtis Green married twice; the first being to Cicely Dillworth née Lloyd (c.1872–1934) at Lichfield Cathedral on 19 October 1899. They had a son, Christopher (b. 1900), and four daughters, Cicely Alice (b. 1902); Margret Elizabeth (b. 1904); Joan Priscilla (b. 1907); and Agnes Mary (b. 1910). Cicely was a member of the Crossfield family, who were a prominent Quaker family, headed by Theodore Crossfield, and for whom Curtis Green designed the Society of Friends Hall (now Adult School Hall) in Croydon in 1908.
Upon Cicely's death in 1934, Curtis Green met Laura Gwenllian née James (c.1874–1952), whom he married on 2 August 1935 at Lambeth Palace. James was the widow of the third Lord Northbourne and daughter of Admiral Sir Edward Rice.[n 3]
Among Curtis Green's grandchildren were the architect Jeremy Sampson (Sam) Lloyd (1930–2009) and the artist and designer Elizabeth Jane Lloyd (1928–1995). Sam Lloyd carried on the Lloyd Green and Adams business after the retirement of his father, Antony, in 1970. His great-grandson, Michael, is a furniture restorer based in Battersea, South West London.
Notes, references and sources
- Although admiring of Curtis' Wolseley showroom, Pevsner suggests that "the palm must go to his more original National Westminster Bank across the way".
- £93,921 in 1960 equates to (£2,178,653 in 2021 adjusted for inflation).
- Hubert Worthington, who compiled Curtis Green's entry for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, incorrectly gives Rice's first name as "Ernest".
- "The Descendants of Isaac and Rachael Wilson". Archive.org. Retrieved 24 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Quite ceremony in Archbishop's Palace", The Nottingham Evening Post, 3 August 1935, p. 8.
- Worthington, Hubert. "Curtis Green, William (1875 – 1960)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 24 February 2020. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
- "Grand Hotelier", The Guardian, 6 February 1978, p. 8.
- "Five New Royal Academicians", The Guardian, 15 February 1933, p. 8.
- Historic England. "FORMER TRAMWAY GENERATING STATION (1282287)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
- The offices of William Curtis Green, Royal Academy archive, accessed 24 February 2020.
- "The Garden Suburb", Leigh Chronicle and Weekly District Advertiser, 5 August 1910, p. 2.
- "Romford Garden Suburb", Westminster Gazette, 25 July 1910, p. 8.
- The Book of the Exhibition of Houses and Cottages, Romford Garden Suburb, Gidea Park, pp. 61–144.
- Gidea Park: List of awards, The Builder, 17 November 1911, p. 566.
- Historic England. "Former Barclays Bank Building (1391697)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- Historic England. "157-160, PICCADILLY W1, 1-3, ARLINGTON STREET SW1 (1265803)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- Bradley and Pevsner, p. 559
- Historic England. "63 AND 65, PICCADILLY W1 (1265712)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 7 April 2020.
- Historic England. "Church of All Saints (1376050)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
-  " Curtis Green: Metropolitan Police Service New HQ Building", Royal Institute of British Architects. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- "The Norman Shaw Buildings" House of Commons fact sheet, p. 4. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- "Daylight robbery? New Scotland Yard is bought for £370m by developer" by Julia Kollewe, The Guardian, 9 December 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- "Mr W. Curtis Green, RA", Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, November 1941, p. 2.
- UK Retail Price Index inflation figures are based on data from Clark, Gregory (2017). "The Annual RPI and Average Earnings for Britain, 1209 to Present (New Series)". MeasuringWorth. Retrieved 2 February 2020.
- The Builder, 22 March 1912, pp. 323–326.
- Historic England. "Founders' Hall including 39-40 Bartholomew Close (1452864)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 31 January 2020.
- "Obituary: Elizabeth Jane Lloyd", Independent, 13 October 1995, accessed 27 February 2020.
- About Curtis Green, Curtis Green Furniture. Retrieved 25 March 2021.