Isi Metzstein’s last crit

Hillhead Primary School Glasgow




We took Isi Metzstein to visit Hillhead Primary School; this was a longstanding appointment. Like many architects of our generation, we valued Isi’s opinion of our work. The visit was arranged to allow Isi to give the building a crit, and to later discuss his evaluation. So, with trepidation, we walked him around the building.

He was mildly surprised (his words).

He enjoyed the clarity of the plan and the situations of the classrooms embedded by the riverside amongst the mature trees and vegetation. He said it felt Scandinavian; a great place for children to learn and see the changing seasons and the transformation of the landscape.

He commented on the quality of detailing, especially the columns wrapped in rope. He thought this was ‘sensuous’ – his words. I said we got the idea from another architect – he didn’t seem to mind. We all learn from each other anyway don’t we!

He berated one teacher for covering the fully glazed classroom wall and its view over the river, with children’s paintings and work, saying that the work blocked the beautiful view – what was it doing there?

Dany, Isi’s wife, told us later that visiting this school was his last outing before his passing, and that it had made him happy.

Isi was never a man who gave compliments lightly, so when you got one you cherished it. His positive feedback on the building was both a relief and as close to a good crit that any of us would ever expect to get. Not a bad memory for us to have of a truly remarkable man.

Henry McKeown, JM Architects


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