John Adam (1721-1792)

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John Adam was a Scottish architect. Born in Linktown of Abbotshall, now part of Kirkcaldy, Fife, he was the eldest son of architect and entrepreneur William Adam. His younger brothers Robert and James Adam also became architects.

The Adam family moved to Edinburgh in 1728, as William Adam's career as a designer of country houses began to take off. Upon his fathers death John became Laird of Blair Adam, the estate in Kinrossshire which his father had built up. Finally, John inherited his father's position as Master Mason to the Board of Ordnance in North Britain.

logo John took his younger brother Robert (the more talented architect of the pair) into partnership.
The brothers also continued to execute their late father's designs, including the pavilions and interiors of Hopetoun House. In the summer of 1754, Robert left on his Grand Tour to Italy. Even when abroad, Robert continued to send home designs. John concentrated on the business side of the practice.

John did win a competition to design a new Royal Exchange in Edinburgh, but he was not appointed as contractor. The successful contractor then appointed another architect, who made changes to the design. However, the building, which now serves as the City Chambers, is still often attributed to John Adam.

He supplied his London-based brothers with capital from the Blair Adam estate. Further losses occurred after the failure of Robert's speculative Adelphi development in 1772, and John was forced to mortgage Blair Adam.

John Adam designed other houses in Edinburgh, including Milton House in the Old Town, and Hawkhill. Among his more significant work was Adam Square, a speculative development of three houses on his own property in the city. The site is now occupied by Adam House, a building of the University of Edinburgh. Upon his death in 1792, he was succeeded as laird of Blair Adam by his only surviving son, the politician and judge William Adam.