Sweet Disorder and the Carefully Careless

Ideas, Faces and Places: Robert Maxwell and Celia Scott


With a body of work firmly in the heart of architectural theory and discourse, Robert Maxwell was a highly regard architect, writer and educator known for critical writing that focuses on modern and contemporary architecture in relation to a wider culture that included art, literature and music.


Robert (Bob) Maxwell at Shannon Airport en route to Cuba, 1962


This exhibition – in the centenary year of Maxwell’s birth – covers sixty years of his writing on transatlantic architectural practice and theory. Like many an Irishman before him, Robert Maxwell moved to Liverpool and hardly looked back. However, his ideas about architecture and the city conceived during his period at Liverpool University and later developed would eventually travel to the city of Dublin and become manifest in the redevelopment of Temple Bar.


James Stirling by Celia Scott,  1983


The exhibition is enlivened by iconic life-size portrait heads by Celia Scott of some of the key figures in post-war architecture who were Maxwell’s colleagues, such as his friend James Stirling.


Southwood Park Flats, Highgate, London, 1968. Perspective by Robert Maxwell (University of Liverpool Library)


The exhibition gives insight into the influences and formation of Maxwell’s ideas as well as tracing their legacy. It shows illustrations of some of his early designs and built work, such as his riverside extension to the Royal Festival Hall and Southwood Park flats, as well as other designs for buildings influenced by his ideas.


Sketch by Robert Maxwell from sketchbook of 56 similar drawings given to Colin Rowe in 1944 (Charles Moore Foundation, Texas)


Images, sometimes striking or unexpected, along with quotes are shown form essays such as ‘Continuity in Art and Architecture’, ‘Functionalism and the Avant-Garde’, and ‘Modernity and Post-Modernity’. Clips of filmed interviews with Maxwell conclude the exhibition.


Edward Jones by Celia Scott, 1982


Celia Scott is an artist and architect whose portrait sculpture revitalised the genre at a time when few artists were doing realistic portraits.

An accompanying exhibition booklet includes essays by Mark Swenarton and Anthony Vidler.

A symposium reflecting on Robert Maxwell and his career was held in the IAA on 15 September 2022 and included contributions from Ellis Woodman, Director of Architecture Foundation, London, Edward Jones architect, London, Irina Davidovici, Director of Archives, GTA Institute, ETH, Zurich, Kenneth Frampton, Ware Professor of Architecture Emeritus, Columbia University, New York, and John Tuomey, O’Donnell Tuomey Architects, Dublin.