Peter Elliott Obituary, Death – There is no relationship that is more intimate or significant for an architect than the one they have with our structural engineer. Peter had the kind of big, blunt engineer fingers that can prise open and repair the most delicate and fiddly mechanisms. In addition, Peter had worked on a farm and led roughneck offshore diving teams on the rigs, so he was a well-rounded individual. His trade was construction and repair, and he had an engineer’s innate fascination with how things worked and how they were put together; in fact, he is famous for having been caught, at the age of three, disassembling live electrical equipment.
In a world where another structural engineer could examine a historic building and tell me that, in spite of the fact that it had been standing for hundreds of years and could, with care, last hundreds more, his calculations showed that it couldn’t and shouldn’t stand up, it was a blessing and a relief to be able to maneuver Peter into the job. He loved old buildings. He read and understood a building better than anyone else I knew, saw the clues, and teased out the structural logic better than anyone else I knew.
He also understood what was going through the minds of those who built the structure. By restoring it and finding new uses for it, he wanted to show respect for the craftsmanship and honesty that had gone into making it.
Peter was born in Edinburgh, went to school at Uppingham, and was drawn into engineering by some wise friends and, I like to think, his blunt fingers and childlike curiosity. For he never really grew up, retaining also the smile, chuckle, and demeanor of the happy cherub all his life, Peter was a happy cherub. Peter was born in Edinburgh, went to school at Uppingham, and was drawn into engineering by some wise friends and his childlike curiosity.
He worked for Arups, Cundall Johnston, and Mark Whitby of Whitby Bird before moving back to Scotland in 1991 to establish Elliott & Co. He made excellent choices when it came to choosing his teachers. His and the practice’s work was deeply crafted, lean, and pragmatic, on projects such as The Festival Hub with architect Ben Tindall – where he converted a King Post roof truss into a Queen Post with true engineer’s skill and daring; Abbotsford House, Riddles Court, Newhailes, Old College and the Assembly Rooms with Law Dunbar-Naismith/LDN; Rosslyn Chapel, Dawyck Gateway with others; and, with
His work was balanced and strengthened by other interests, and his clubs and associations give you a flavor of the man: Peter was a member of the Speculative Society, the Scottish Malt Whisky Society, the Tweeddale Shooting Club, and the Royal Company of Archers; the Newcomen Society (very old engines), and many other engineers’ technical societies with ever-more complex acronyms such as ISEHG, the Institution of Structural Engineers History Group (he was never happier than when he was participating