James Welch recalls the life of Douglas Sampson (1936–2011), landscape architect and founding Partner of Derek Lovejoy & Partner

Douglas Sampson (1936–2011)
Douglas Sampson (1936–2011)

Douglas was born in Leicester in 1936 and graduated in architecture at Leicester College of Art in 1957. He furthered his education in landscape architecture at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, under the respected watch of Ian McHarg. Following his training, he worked in the celebrated offices of Dan Kiley, in Vermont.

Returning to the UK in 1963, he forged contact with a number of other Pennsylvania graduates under the ambitious and expansive vision of Derek Lovejoy. Following a short period of work with RMJM in Edinburgh, his lifelong career with Derek Lovejoy began, firstly in Freeport, Bahamas and then in Belfast before he was invited to establish the Edinburgh office in 1967 as a founding Partner in Derek Lovejoy & Partners.

Douglas’s professional life saw him build a successful landscape practice in Edinburgh and a career that secured him considerable respect as a leading practitioner and expert witness across the UK. His work on the routeing of the A9 near Dunkeld and its successful integration into the landscape is a fine example of his thoughtful approach to design. He also became heavily involved in the restoration of mineral waste, including shale ‘bings’.

In his latter years, he acted as expert witness at the public inquiry into the new visitor centre at Urquhart Castle, which was allowed. He won several awards for his work including a BALI Award for Jedburgh Riverside and a Civic Trust Award for the Norie-Miller Walk in Perth. In addition to his professional work, Douglas was involved in the promotion of the industry, becoming Chairman of the Scottish Chapter of the LI in 1971 and Chairman of the Institute’s examiner’s panel for 4 years from 1973.

One of Douglas’s greatest loves in life, after his family, was his relentless passion for flight. He learned to fly a balloon, which he frequently used in his work to help articulate his analysis and to illustrate his arguments. In the late 1990’s Douglas moved on into powered flight and obtained his pilot’s licence for a microlight rating. He acquired his own aircraft and spent many happy and frequently eventful hours touring the local area, with regular trips south to Northumberland and the Borders.

Douglas died in October 2011, following a short period of ill health.


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