Angela MacMillan and Dany Metzstein honoured by RIAS

The widows of two of Scotland’s greatest 20th Century architects, Professors Andy MacMillan OBE and Isi Metzstein OBE, Angela and Dany, have been awarded Honorary Fellowships from the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS).

The presentations were made during the annual RIAS Andrew Doolan Best Building in Scotland Award, held this week at the National Museum of Scotland.

RIAS President Iain Connelly said: “The architectural profession throughout Scotland and much further afield, appreciates the extraordinary and important contribution of the late Professors Andy MacMillan OBE FRIAS and Isi Metzstein OBE FRIAS. For decades the Andy ‘n Isi double act led architectural education in Scotland and their homes were the focus of hospitality for visiting architects and academics from across the globe. Consequently, many of the world’s great contemporary architects have enjoyed the warm welcome proffered by Angela MacMillan and Dany Metzstein.

“However, this recognition is more than just an acknowledgement of the ‘behind every good man…’ cliché. It recognises the fact that Angela and Dany, as well as being devoted partners and advisors to their respective spouses, have been a source of support and counsel to generations of architects and students of architecture. Their influence and goodwill has been at the heart of Scottish architecture for decades.

“They are also, of course, both strong women, for whom the cliché ‘behind every good woman…’ might have been invented. As an educationalist, Angela has influenced policy well beyond Scotland while Dany’s contribution to transforming fashion has helped make Scotland a brighter place. The award of the Incorporation’s Honorary Fellowship to Angela and Dany simply gives due recognition to their special place at the heart of the great Scottish architectural family.”

Angela MacMillan’s late husband, Professor Andy MacMillan, who passed away while chairing this year’s judging trip, was also commemorated at last night’s Awards ceremony.

The citations for Angela MacMillan and Dany Metzstein’s Honorary Fellowships are as follows:

Angela MacMillan

Angela MacMillan
Angela MacMillan

Born in Glasgow, Angela was evacuated to her mother’s native Dublin during the war. She and her mother returned to Glasgow when Angela was 14. Not many years later Angela met Andy MacMillan at Maryhill baths where they were both competitive swimmers. They married in 1955 and soon had three daughters, Angela, Siobhan and Fiona. Some years later their son, Fred, joined their happy and chaotic brood.

The MacMillan’s large Victorian villa, in Maryhill, always rang with laughter. Visitors, frequently students from the ‘Mac’ or international celebrity architects, were sure of the warmest welcome and plied with Scotch. Food was invariably proffered with unfailing generosity. The MacMillan household became a focus for lively architectural discussion.

Angela qualified as a teacher in the early 1970’s. Her first school was Faifley Primary, next to the Gillespie Kidd and Coia designed, St Andrews College in Bearsden. She then took up the post of Deputy Head in charge of infants at Cadder Primary in North West Glasgow in 1976. After seven years there she became Deputy Head at Balornock primary in the north of the city, where she remained for only a year before becoming Head at Oakgrove Primary in 1984 where she remained until retiring in 1996.

Among Angela’s many notable achievements as a teacher, she is credited with important improvements in the recognition and treatment of Dyslexia. She worked closely with Dyslexia Scotwest to develop teaching protocols and methods which were widely adopted and have greatly influenced the understanding of and approach to Dyslexia throughout Scotland and much further afield. She is widely recognised as an innovator in education and has recently been invited to represent Scotland at a major international conference on primary education and buildings for education in Barcelona.

Angela MacMillan is awarded the Incorporation’s Honorary Fellowship for her outstanding contribution to contemporary architecture and education.

Dany Metzstein

Dany Metzstein
Dany Metzstein

Born Danielle Kahn in Montpellier, Dany was raised a Jew in Vichy France. Her mother had left Vienna prior to the Anchluss in which Germany annexed Austria. Her father, who died when she was young, was from Alsace. She spoke German as her first language, French second, then English later.

After the end of the war Dany lived in Paris before coming to Scotland in the early 1950s - her stepfather worked in the steel industry and relocated to Motherwell. She went on to study for an Arts degree at Glasgow University. Her first meeting with Isi Metzstein, at a party in Glasgow in the early 1960s, was a set-up. The host knew their remarkably similar backgrounds. She subsequently frequented Café Continental on Sauchiehall Street for weeks on end, knowing that it was Isi’s coffee shop of choice. Eventually she bumped into Isi ‘by chance’. Isi later remarked that when he met her “he knew his number was up”! They married in 1967.

Speaking fluent German and French, Dany went to work for Lufthansa, so the couple travelled extensively on cheap staff tickets. Their children, Mark, Saul and Ruth arrived as the swinging sixties evolved into the glamour of the 1970s. The Metzstein home, in Glasgow’s Dowanhill, was, for many years, the focus of much generous hospitality and particularly renowned New Year parties.

Ever conscious of fashion and wishing to shake up her adoptive Glasgow, Dany opened her children’s clothes shop, Strawberry Fields, in the late 1970s. She used her knowledge of European languages and continental tastes to bring new fashion to Glasgow. The shop quickly established a reputation for quality and innovation and became a city institution, greatly increasing the attractiveness of generations of Glasgow infants.

On the subject of attractiveness, one aspect of Dany’s career in fashion, which gave Isi particular pleasure, was her period as a lingerie model. The billboards of Glasgow and much further afield were greatly enhanced – and Isi’s inordinate pride was apparent to all.

Dany Metzstein is awarded the Incorporation’s Honorary Fellowship for her outstanding contribution to contemporary architecture and the world of fashion.

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