Alexander Scott Lee, RIAS

Alexander Scott Lee, RIAS

5th March 1951 – 4th June 2022

Scott Lee passed away peacefully on June 4, 2022, after a long period of illness. Although it had been some time since he practised, his legacy at Lee Boyd is strongly felt every day in the way we do things and the quality of our work.

That legacy was born from a passion for design, an acute attention to detail and a particular way of viewing the world. Scott was one of those rare individuals whose personality just lit up a room, eased tensions and helped make a dark situation feel brighter. This was delivered with sensitivity, intelligence, and perhaps most memorably, an infectious sense of humour. With his easy-going nature, laid back transatlantic drawl and keen interest in people, Scott had a knack for getting to know you, taking more interest in others and their needs than in his own agenda.

He was born in Washington DC then moved to Bermuda. At the age of 8 he came, with his Scottish mother, to Oxford, then London and later graduated from Oxford Polytechnic in 1975. He gained early experience at Hugh Martin & Partners, Forgan & Stewart and GRMK before co-founding his own practice with Steve Boyd, in 1989. The new practice established an office in the front room of Scott’s house until the opportunity came to convert the former police station in Morningside into a modern office. We still practice from Canaan Lane today.

Scott loved his gadgets and was always keen to try new technologies. During the early years Lee Boyd strove hard to be a modern practice, using CAD when others were still on the drawing board and embracing the move to the digital age with a new website and communications database. One of the mantras of the time was that we were a ‘paperless office’.  Whilst the reality never lived up to the slogan (it still doesn’t!), it represents an aspiration by Scott and Steve to run an office in a way that reflected the practice’s contemporary approach to design.

Unusual for a small practice, Lee Boyd quickly established working relationships with a list of high-profile clients such as Bank of Scotland, the National Galleries, Museums and Libraries. Scott was instrumental in nurturing clients from these organisations, many of whom became good friends over the years and remember him as a charming and thoughtful man, funny and generous of spirit. Over the last few months many friends, colleagues and clients have been in touch to share their fond memories of him with us.

Although the practice started to make a name for itself, received numerous awards and plaudits and grew in staff numbers, Scott remained ever modest about his own role in that success and was very keen to share it with all the staff.

During his time in practice Scott also tutored at Edinburgh University and held several voluntary positions in organisations promoting inclusion and art, including the Board of Trustees for Artlink, and the Artists’ Collective Gallery.

After a previous illness in the 1980’s Scott worked hard to regain fitness, going to the gym with colleagues in his lunch break and encouraging them to join him by getting on their bikes.  He became a passionate cyclist and a strong advocate for pedalling to and from meetings and could often be seen locking his steed up to railings and lamp posts across the city.

Scott’s sea legs were renowned and many of his friends will recall hair raising sailing trips around the Western Isles where they offered little help to their skipper as he calmly navigated a sail down the Sound of Mull in a Force 8/9 gale or took them agonisingly close to the whirlpool at Corryvreckan!

Scott had a great enthusiasm for photography. In addition to photographing projects, Scott loved taking pictures of people. He had his own dark room at home and a string of commissions for friends and colleagues. He also shared his love of music with his friends and family; an eclectic and curious mix from folk to rock and everything between. His creativity extended to the kitchen, most memorably his annual marmalade-making which he generously brought into the office to share.

Scott was happiest spending time with his family, friends, and his animals at home or often on the Island of Mull where he spent many happy holidays, with his much-loved wife, Mary, and sons, Joe and Tom.  He is remembered with great fondness, by those who shared with him a story, a song, a joke, a kindness, or a drink. In the sphere of architecture, Lee Boyd continues what he helped to start, and we know he was proud of what he achieved, and what we still do in his name.