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Aston Webb

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Webbportrait.jpg
Sir Aston Webb, portrait by Solomon Joseph Solomon, ca 1906

Sir Aston Webb (May 22 1849 - August 21 1930) was an English architect, active in the late 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century. He was President of the Royal Academy 1919-1924.

The son of a water-colour painter (and former pupil of landscape artist David Cox), Edward Webb, Aston Webb was born in London and received his initial architectural training articled in the firm of Banks and Barry from 1866 to 1871, after which he spent a year travelling in Europe and Asia. He returned to London in 1874 to set up his own practice.

One of his earliest works was built for the Six Masters of The Royal Grammar School Worcester in 1877. These almshouses are in the Arts and Crafts style, different from his later work.

From the early 1880s, he joined the Royal Institute of British Architects (1883) and began working in partnership with Ingress Bell (18361914). Their first major commission was a winning design for the Victoria Law Courts in Birmingham (1886), the first of numerous public building schemes the pair designed over the next 23 years. Towards the end of his career Webb was assisted by his sons, Maurice and Philip. Ralph Knott, who designed London's County Hall, began his work as an apprentice to Webb executing the drawings for his competition entries.

In London, Webb's best known works include the Queen Victoria Monument and The Mall approach to, and the principal facade of, Buckingham Palace, which he re-designed in 1912. He also designed the entrance facade of the Victoria and Albert Museum (1891), the Royal United Services Institute, Whitehall (1893-1895) and as part of The Mall scheme Admiralty Arch (1908-1909).

Other educational commissions included the new buildings of Christ's Hospital in Horsham, Sussex (1893-1902), the Imperial College of Science, South Kensington (1900-1906), King's College, Cambridge (1908), the Royal School of Mines, South Kensington (1909-1913) and Royal Russell School, Coombe, Croydon, Surrey.

The central building of Chancellor's Court at the University of Birmingham, UK was named after Aston Webb. It includes the Great Hall. The main feature is a large dome that sits atop the building.

He served as RIBA President (1902-1904) and, having been elected as a full member of the Royal Academy in 1903, served as acting president from 1919 to 1924. He was knighted in 1904, received the Royal Gold Medal in Architecture in 1905 and was the first recipient of the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal in 1907.

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