1780 – 1867
Who was Robert Smirke?
Smirke was the son of portrait painter Robert Smirke, and studied architecture as a pupil of classical architect John Soane in 1796, the same year he commenced his studies at the Royal Academy. He also studied and travelled in southern Europe for several years.
Smirke designed public buildings in the classical style, including the main block and facade of the British Museum, the east wing of Somerset House and the adjacent King's (formerly Smirke) Building of King's College London, and the Royal College of Physicians building in Trafalgar Square (now known as Canada House).
He also designed the second incarnation of the Covent Garden Theatre, now the Royal Opera House (destroyed by fire in 1857), and the General Post Office building in St Martins-le-Grand in the City of London (built between 1825 and 1829 (demolished c. 1910).
Together with John Nash and Sir John Soane, he became official architect to the Office of Works in 1813. He advised the Parliamentary Commissioners on the building of new Churches from 1818 onwards, contributing four himself, including St George, Brandon Hill in Bristol.
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