James Stirling / Michael Wilford fonds

James Stirling / Michael Wilford fonds

Part of


  • James Frazer Stirling (creator)
  • Michael Wilford (creator)
  • James Gowan (creator)
  • Stirling and Gowan (creator)
  • James Stirling (Firm) (creator)
  • James Stirling and Partner (creator)
  • James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Associates (creator)
  • Michael Wilford and Partners (creator)
  • Michael Wilford GmbH (creator)
  • Michael Wilford Architects (creator)
  • Michael Wilford + MUMA (creator)
  • Wilford Schupp Architekten (Firm) (creator)
  • James Frazer Stirling (archive creator)


James Stirling / Michael Wilford fonds

Dates of creation



  • archives

Level of archival description

Fonds 140

Extent and Medium

  • 39582 drawings (includes reprographic copies, prints, maps, etc.)
  • 103.77 l.m. of textual records
  • 17.85 l.m. of photographic materials
  • 476 rolls
  • 288 ring binders
  • 259 posters
  • 212 sets
  • 173 film reels
  • 122 panels
  • 94 textual records
  • 62 audio reels
  • 52 models
  • 38 artefacts
  • 31 videocassettes
  • 9 printing plates
  • 4 audiocassettes
  • 3 files
  • 2 montages
  • 2 sculptures

Scope and Content

Fonds documents the personal activities and professional practice of architects James Stirling and Michael Wilford. It pertains to their work as architectural students, and to the architectural and urban planning projects by the successive firms of Stirling and Gowan; James Stirling; James Stirling and Partner; James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Associates; Michael Wilford and Partners; Michael Wilford GmbH; and Wilford Schupp Architekten GmbH, as well as by the firms of Michael Wilford Architects and Michael Wilford + MUMA. Significant British and German projects designed by the firms of James Stirling and Partner and successive firms are particularly well represented in the Fonds. The Fonds also informs us about the lecturing and writing activities of Stirling and Wilford, publications and exhibitions featuring the work of the successive firms, awards and honours presented to the partners and successive firms; and the partners' involvement with professional associations and other organizations. The fonds also consists of photographic and audiovisual materials created, collected and used by the partners and the successive firms, and of administrative records and other materials relating to office activities, operations and events. Material in this fonds was probably produced between 1947 and 2004.

Fonds contains a large number of architectural drawings, including conceptual, design development, presentation, publication and working drawings, as well as textual records, photographic materials, several models and a few artefacts relating mostly to architectural projects. Textual records also pertain to various activities by the partners and their successive firms and include correspondence, minutes, reports, financial records, specifications, notes, building programmes, clippings and contracts. Other photographic materials illustrate activities and social events of the firm, and travels by Stirling and Wilford. The fonds is arranged in 4 series: James Stirling Papers; Professional Papers; Michael Wilford Papers; and James Stirling Obituaries, Memorial and Foundation.

The extent of the fonds does not include those objects processed at a preliminary level, nor does it include ca. 107 boxes of materials received since 2012.

Reference Number



A project register was not present in the fonds records. Individual project files in the Projects sub-series (AP140.S2.SS1) consist of all material relating to the preparation, development, realization and promotion of a project, and include drawings, photographic materials, textual records, models and artefacts. Original arrangement of the drawings by broad stages in the design process was generally respected, but some reordering and rearrangement within these groups was carried out in certain cases, particularly when numbered sequences or clear groupings of drawings had been disturbed.

Photographs and negatives relating to specific projects files can also be found in the Photographic Materials sub-series (AP140.S2.SS7), and in the Posters and Photographs file in the Office Records sub-series (AP140.S2.SS10.D4), both in the Professional Papers series.

Photographic materials by James Stirling, including travel photographs, views of Liverpool and of Le Corbusier's buildings from the 1950s and early 1960s have been filed in the Personal Collections sub-series in the James Stirling Papers series (AP140.S1.SS2). Several of the same views, but consisting mostly of more recent photographic prints, probably for publication purposes, can also be found in the Photographic Materials sub-series of the Professional Papers series (AP140.S2.SS7).

Administrative history

In 1956, the architects James Stirling and James Gowan established a private practice, Stirling and Gowan, in London, England. The firm was responsible for seminal projects in British modernism, including the Flats at Ham Common in London; the Housing redevelopment in Avenham, Preston; and the Leicester University Engineering Building. The Housing redevelopment in Avenham was awarded the Medal for good design in Housing in 1963, and the Leicester University Engineering Building received the 1965 R. S. Reynolds Memorial Award, presented by the American Institute of Architects.

After the dissolution of the partnership with Gowan in 1963, Stirling set up his own practice in London. Michael Wilford, who had joined the firm of Stirling and Gowan as a Senior Assistant in 1960, continued working with Stirling after 1963. Significant projects executed by the firm include the History Faculty Building, University of Cambridge; the Students' residences, University of St. Andrews; the Florey Building, Queen's College, University of Oxford; and the British Olivetti Training Centre in Halsemere, England. In 1971, Wilford became a partner in the firm of James Stirling, which was then renamed James Stirling and Partner.

In 1980, the firm took the corporate name of James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Associates. From the 1980s, it obtained major international commissions, including the prestigious State Gallery Addition and New Chamber Theatre, for which it had won first prize in competition, and the neighbouring Music School and History Museum, both in Stuttgart, Germany. Other important buildings by the firm include the Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin, Germany; the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the Clore Gallery in London; the Performing Arts Centre, Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York; No. 1 Poultry in London; the B. Braun Melsungen AG headquarters and industrial complex in Melsungen, Germany; and the Temasek Polytechnic in Singapore.

After the death of Stirling in 1992, Wilford worked as sole practioner in the firm of James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Associates. In 1993, Wilford, Laurence Bain and Russell Bevington established the firm of Michael Wilford and Partners, incorporating all the rights and responsibilities of James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Associates. The Stuttgart office, which was opened in the late 1970s, continued to operate as a sister office under the new partnership. Significant projects include the Lowry Centre in Salford, England, which received the Royal Fine Art Commission Trust Building of the Year award in 2001, and the Esplanade, National Performing Arts Centre in Singapore. The firm was renamed Bain & Bevington Architects Limited after the departure of Wilford in 2001. Since 2000, Wilford has practiced in England under the corporate name of Michael Wilford Architects.

In 1997, the Stuttgart office of Michael Wilford and Partners was named Michael Wilford GmbH. Significant projects by the firm include the British Embassy in Berlin and the Sto Headquarters and Communications Building in Weizen, Germany, both with the firm Michael Wilford and Partners, and the second phase of the Music School and History Museum in Stuttgart. The office was renamed Wilford Schupp Architekten GmbH in 2002.

Between 2000 and 2003, Wilford also worked in collaboration with the firm MUMA Limited (McInnes, Usher, McKnight Architects). Significant projects include proposals for the Walgreen Drama Centre, University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and the Central Campus Library for Rice University, Houston, Texas, and an unsuccessful competition entry for the University of Dublin, Trinity College, Pearse Street Development in Ireland.

Biographical notes


Glasgow, Scotland 1924 - London, England 1992

The architect James Stirling, also known as James Frazer Stirling, was born in 1924 in Glasgow, Scotland and moved with his family to Liverpool, England the following year. He studied at the Liverpool School of Architecture from 1945 to 1950, spending the fall of 1948 in the United States on a student exchange. In 1950, he settled in London, England, attending the Association for Planning and Regional Reconstruction for two years, without graduating. He also participated in architectural competitions and from 1952 to 1956 was a member of the Independent Group. In 1953, he became Senior Assistant in the firm of Lyons, Israel and Ellis, leaving the firm to establish a private practice in partnership with James Gowan. His travels during this period included a tour of the cities of northern Italy and visits to the works of Le Corbusier in and around Paris and in the south of France. In 1966, Stirling married Mary Shand, with whom he had three children, Ben, Kate and Sophie.

Stirling began a successful academic career in the late 1950s and was also much in demand as a lecturer. He was Visiting Teacher at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1957, at the Regent Street Polytechnic in London between 1958 and 1960, and at the Cambridge University Department of Architecture in 1961, a Visiting Critic from 1960 and Charles Davenport Visiting Professor from 1967 at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, the Banister Fletcher Professor at the University of London in 1977, and Visiting Professor at the Staatliche Kunstakademie Düsseldorf in Germany. Stirling's work was recognised with several awards, including the Alvar Aalto Medal in 1978, the Royal Gold Medal in 1980, the Pritzker Prize in 1981, the Hugo-Häring-Preis in 1988, and the Praemium Imperiale for architecture award in 1990. Stirling was an Honourary Member of the Bund Deutscher Architekten, an Honourary Fellow of the American Institute of Architects, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and an Associate member of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Stirling received a knighthood in 1992. He died June 27th 1992 in London.


Surbiton, England 1938 -

The architect Michael Wilford was born in Surbiton, England, in 1938. He attended the Kingston Technical School in London, England from 1950 to 1955 and the School of Architecture of the Polytechnic of North London from 1955 to 1963, where he received his Honours Diploma in Architecture. He married in 1960 and has 2 sons and 3 daughters.

Wilford has lectured extensively, including in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Spain, Singapore, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. He has also taught at numerous schools of architecture including as a tutor at the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London between 1969 and 1973, and as a Visiting Critic at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, Rice University in Houston, Texas, McGill University in Montréal, Québec, the University of Toronto in Ontario, and at the University of Newcastle in Australia. He has also served as an External Examiner at the schools of architecture of Leeds Polytechnic and the University of Westminster in London, at the Bartlett School of Architecture of the University of London, and at the Mackintosh School of Architecture, University of Glasgow in Scotland. Wilford is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects and of the Singapore Institute of Architects, an Honourary Member of the Bund Deutsche Architekten, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. He was granted the award of Commander of the British Empire in 2001.


Glasgow, Scotland 1923 -

The architect James Gowan was born in 1923 in Glasgow, Scotland. He studied at the Department of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art between 1940 and 1942 and at the Kingston School of Art in London, England between 1946 and 1948. He married Margaret Aileen Barry in 1946 and has two daughters.

He worked for the architectural firm Powell Moya in London in 1950 and 1951, for the New Town Corporation, Stevenage, in 1952 and 1953, and from 1954 to 1956, for the firm of Lyons, Israel and Ellis, where the architect James Stirling also worked. After the dissolution of the Stirling and Gowan partnership in 1963, Gowan founded his own practice, designing several private houses, including the Schreiber House in London, and social housing in Creek Road and Trafalgar Road in Greenwich, London. Gowan has taught at the Architectural Association School of Architecture and at the Royal College of Art in London. He is a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and a Fellow of the Royal College of Art in London.

Custodial history

The James Stirling/Michael Wilford records remained in the custody of the firm until their transfer to the CCA beginning in 2000. At that date the records and other related materials were stored in five locations in London and one in Stuttgart.

In London, records were stored at: the office of Michael Wilford and Partners (the same office that had been occupied by James Stirling, Michael Wilford, and Partners) at 8 Fitzroy Square - material stored here includes drawings, models, many rolls of drawings and copies (stored in the attic), and works framed on the office walls; the so-called "archives," at North Gower Street - material kept here includes plan files with drawings for most projects, framed works, the James Stirling 'portfolio,' and models; the Storage Depot (Access Storage Space) at 13-17 Worship Street - material stored here includes textual documents; James Stilring's private residence - material stored here includes photographs, slides, lecture notes, and audio-visual materials; Michael Wilford's private residence - material stored here includes drawings, models, rolls of drawings and copies for student and late work.

In Stuttgart records were stored at the offices of Michael Wilford Architects, Neue Brücke 8, D, Stuttgart, Germany. Material stored here includes drawings, models, many rolls of drawings and copies, primarily for German projects.

Archivist's note

  • The James Stirling/Michael Wilford fonds was processed and described from 2006 to 2008, with funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, by Eva-Marie Neumann, with the assistance of Colin MacWhirter, and under the supervision of Howard Shubert, Curator, Prints and Drawings Collection. The finding aid for the fonds was edited in 2008 by Alexis Lenk, Coordinator, Collections Documentation.

Credit line

James Stirling/Michael Wilford fonds
Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture/
Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal

Language of material

Documents are in English, German, Italian, Spanish and Japanese, with some in French, Persian, Dutch, Chinese, Portuguese, Arabic, Turkish, Czech and Swedish.

Related units of description

  • The Deutsches Architekturmuseum in Frankfurt am Main, Germany holds material for projects by the firm of Stirling and Gowan.
  • Material related to James Stirling is contained in the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies fonds (AP057) including audiocassettes of lectures, and essays.

General note

  • Materials in the James Stirling/Michael Wilford fonds have been processed and catalogued up to approximately 1992, the date of James Stirling's death. Materials dated after 1992 and acquired by the CCA prior to 2012 are listed in the finding aid and have been processed at a preliminary level. The following accruals received since 2012 remain unprocessed and are not yet included in the finding aid: DR2012:0002 (box of 2050 slides) DR2012:0003 (2 textual documents) DR2012:0004 (1 photograph) DR2014:0001 (5 boxes) DR2014:0003 (98 boxes) DR2014:0004 (1 envelope) DR2015:0001 (2 cases) Please consult curator for further information.

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