Smirke, Sydney

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b. 1798 London, England
d. 8 December 1877 Tunbridge Wells, England
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English architect who created the circular reading room in the British Museum in London.
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Apart from his considerable architectural practice, Sydney Smirke was responsible, in particular, for two structures in which he utilized the increasingly popular combination of iron and glass, their popularity stemming not least from the fire hazard in urban centres. In 1834 he adapted James Wyatt's Pantheon, the famous concert and masquerade hall in Oxford Street that had been opened in 1772, refitting the building as a shopping centre.
Smirke is best known for his creation of the circular reading room in London's British Museum, which had been designed by his brother Sir Robert Smirke (1823–47). The reading room was designed within a central courtyard, conceived as a circular domed structure by the Chief Librarian and Keeper of the Department of Printed Books, Antonio Panizzi, and executed by Smirke; he covered the courtyard with a cast-iron domed structure (1854–7).
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
RA 1859. Royal Academy Professor of Architecture 1861–5. FRS. RIBA Royal Gold Medal 1860.
Further Reading
Roger Dixon and Stefan Muthesius, 1978, Victorian Architecture, Thames \& Hudson. J.Mordaunt-Crook, 1977, Seven Victorian Architects, Pennsylvania State University Press.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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