The Edinburgh Law School lives and works in Old College, in the heart of the historic Old Town. It has a long history of its own and this pictorial record has been kept of its evolution.
The original College of the University of Edinburgh was founded in 1583 at the instigation of Edinburgh Town Council. The site chosen was that of the Collegiate Church of St. Mary in the Fields, known locally as Kirk 0' Field, which is contained within the present area of Old College. The first Principal was Robert Rollock, a graduate of St. Andrews and disciple of George Buchanan.
The foundation stone of the present Old College was laid in 1789, with the original plan of the building prepared by Robert Adam (born in Kirkcaldy and buried in Westminster Abbey) who died in 1792 - before the building had been completed.
Robert Adam, himself an Edinburgh alumnus, was chosen to draw up plans for the new building - now known as Old College. His original designs provided for a double quadrangle, but of this, only the east front and the north-west corner were to be built. After his death, in 1792, his brothers, James and William, supervised the remaining building work carried out in the 179Os. It was Robert Adam who was responsible for the magnificent vaulted entrance to the College with its monolithic Roman Doric columns (the largest single pieces ever cut from Craigleith Quarry).
After Adam's death the work on Old College was hindered by the Napoleonic Wars and it was not until 1816 that William Playfair, at the age of 27, was appointed to complete the building. Playfair made several alterations to the original plan, the most important of which was the removal of a proposed cross building which would have divided the existing quadrangle. Playfair was also responsible for the terrace with the flights of steps, the Playfair Library Hall - which now has his name - and the Natural History Museum (now the Talbot Rice Gallery).
This internal view shows the east block, with terrace but still at this stage without the dome. By the end of the century, a fountain and a statue of Sir David Brewster had also joined the landscape - though both have since been removed.
It is interesting to note that according to Youngson, the cost of building all of Old College,
including the Playfair Library Hall, was £121,000.