15 Rutland Square, Edinburgh

© Jon Barnes

Rutland Square Headquarters

15 Rutland Square, in the heart of Edinburgh's West End, is a unique and elegant setting. Home to the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland for nearly a century, this building has served Scotland's architects and played host to royalty, ambassadors, politicians and leading figures from the world of architecture, the arts and public life.

The RIAS is the country's most important resource for architectural material. There is a specialist bookshop, a library for members and students, and an extensive architectural books and drawings collection, much of which is kept with Historic Environment Scotland in Edinburgh.

History of 15 Rutland Square

15 Rutland Square was one of the two townhouses of Sir Robert Rowand Anderson (1834-1921), one of Scotland's most distinguished architects, who designed Glasgow Central Station, Mount Stuart House on Bute and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. He was founder and first President of the RIAS and bequeathed the house and its furnishings to the Incorporation.

The building, which dates from the 1830s, was designed by the architect John Tait and sits within a masterplan by Archibald Elliot, in the western-most area of the Edinburgh's New Town. The interiors of the building, also by Tait, have been sensitively adapted as offices and meeting rooms to address the needs of a dynamic creative profession.

The Building

Upon entering 15 Rutland Square a small entrance hallway gives onto the bookshop/reception area. A Members Room with comfortable seating sits just behind the bookshop. This room is named in honour of Dr. Joyce B. Deans CBE, the Incorporation's first woman President. The bookshop and the Joyce B. Deans Room are open to visitors and the Incorporation's Members during the working day. However, by evening, both these rooms are suitable for small gatherings, receptions or pre-dinner drinks.

The large and impressive Council Room on the first floor is the most elaborately decorated of the Incorporation's rooms. The meeting table (Sir Robert Rowand Anderson's dining table) comfortably seats up to twelve, although this room can be set out theatre-style to accommodate up to forty. The adjoining Library is suitable for catering. As the two rooms are separated by a sliding screen, they can be used in tandem for receptions of up to sixty guests or a sit down meal for a maximum of forty guests.

The Council Room displays one of Scotland's finest collections of Twentieth Century portraiture, depicting virtually all of the Incorporation's Past Presidents, with works by some of Scotland's best-known portraitists. The Library still contains its historic bookcases and a particularly fine architecture collection.

A further meeting room, the Garden Room, was created in 2011 to enhance the building's flexibility and services for the RIAS membership. A new garden was created to celebrate the Incorporation’s 100th Birthday. This can be used as an extension of the meeting space or a possible break-out space. The balance of the accommodation within the building's tight six-storey plan serves as offices and service accommodation for RIAS staff and visitors.

All the public rooms in the building have full wireless internet connectivity. The Council Room features a large screen to facilitate presentations.


The Incorporation's second President, Sir John Burnet, inaugurated a collection of busts of celebrated Scottish architects and the series of Presidential portraits. To this day, RIAS Presidents are asked to gift a portrait by an artist of their own choice to the Incorporation. A number of distinguished artists are represented in the RIAS collection of Presidential portraits, including Sir Stanley Cursiter, Alberto Morrocco, Jack Knox, Alexander Goudie and Norman Edgar.

In recent years, a number of the Incorporation's distinguished international architect Honorary Fellows have contributed an impressive collection of signed original works and prints which are displayed within the building. These include works by Tadao Ando, Ted Cullinan, Lord Foster, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, Richard Mayer, Ian Ritchie, Lord Rogers, Moshe Safdie, Alvaro Siza and Robert Venturi.


Although small, the RIAS Library is of exceptional significance to the profession's history. Computerised cataloguing of the Library is ongoing. The Library is available to members and students by prior appointment. Contact: Membership on +44 (0) 131 229 7545 or membership@rias.org.uk.

Drawings Collection

The RIAS Drawings Collection consists of approximately 9,000 drawings, with a considerable number of historical photographs, some sketchbooks and framed material.

The earliest drawings in the Collection are by James Adam. There is a fine series of drawings by William Playfair, mostly from when he was a student. There are examples by David Bryce, Alexander Thomson and a significant collection of turn-of-the-century drawings by Robert Lorimer (part of the Scott Morton Collection), James Jerdan and James Miller. The James Miller Archive is the largest single archive in the Collection, comprising some 4000 drawings ranging from 1880 to 1945.

The Collection also has a significant quantity of 1930s drawings, including those by Sir Basil Spence, James Bowhill Gibson, James Houston and David Carr. In addition there is a growing number of post-war drawings.

The RIAS Collection is housed in the premises of Canmore (part of Historic Environment Scotland), John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh and is managed by the Curator of the National Monuments Records. It is open to the public at normal Commission times - which are available by telephoning +44 (0) 131 662 1456 - preferably by prior appointment.

If you have any material which the RIAS would be interested in please contact info@rias.org.uk.

Hiring the Building

The Incorporation's Council Room and a comfortably appointed basement meeting room (seating up to 16) are available at highly competitive rates. Catering for all scales and types of meeting is negotiable, from simply coffee/tea and biscuits up to full set meal.

If you are interested in using the facilities at 15 Rutland Square or would like to know more about what is on offer or detailed pricing of events, please download the RIAS Letting Brochure or contact RIAS on +44 (0) 131 229 7545 or at commercial@rias.org.uk.

Getting to No. 15

As with many city centre buildings, public transport links to 15 Rutland Square are excellent. On street parking is limited and while there is a large public car park at Haymarket, within comfortable walking distance, arriving by train or bus is the preferred option for most visitors.


15 Rutland Square is around ten minutes stroll from Edinburgh Haymarket Station which connects to Glasgow, Fife and the North. Waverley Station, a ten minute bus ride away, connects with all these destinations and also southwards on the East Coast line. Edinburgh Airport is around half-an-hour by tram (stop West End) or bus.