Iain Langlands: Project Architect
Iain Langlands of BLB Architects is the architect for the redesign and refurbishment of the Egyptian galleries at the Fitzwilliam Museum. BLB was founded in the 1940s by Gordon and Ursula Bowyer. Their first project to receive public acclaim was the sports pavillion they designed for the South Bank exhibition in 1951.
Iain Langlands joined the partnership in 1961, but at that time his expertise was not being brought to bear on any museum or gallery projects. Instead, he became involved in a potentially pioneering design for prefabricated petrol stations. The scheme was for an American oil company but it proved too expensive to set up. Subsequently he worked on designs for a special school for handicapped children, offices, factories and houses for housing associations.
His first museum project started in 1982 for the National Gallery, where he collaborated with the Property Services Agency in a project to renovate the Barry Rooms. Barry's original designs had included a specification for the colour scheme, involving crimson and gold leaf. This had apparently never been executed and Iain included the colour scheme in his design for the renovation.
BLB Architects' association with the Fitzwilliam Museum goes back to 1991 when they were asked to design a new gallery especially suited to displaying Japanese prints, the Shiba Room (Gallery 14). This included the design of special adaptable display cabinets developed from some they had designed for the British Museum.
When the Department of Antiquities required new galleries for the display of Roman antiquities, Iain worked with David Wheeler of BLB to produce a design for converting storage and service areas into gallery space, as well as designing the showcases and the means of mounting the larger objects. When David Wheeler fell ill, Iain took over the project. Since then he has been responsible for the design of the new A G Leventis Gallery for Cypriot antiquities (Gallery 22); the redesign of the West Asiatic Corridor Gallery; the design of the displays of Assyrian reliefs at ground floor level; and outline studies for the redesign and detailed display in the Greek, Roman and Egyptian galleries. The latter project is now well underway.
In the meantime, if anyone needs an instant petrol station ...