The building has an Italianate style and shows the influence of John Keppie’s Beaux Arts training. The partnership had just taken on Charles Rennie Mackintosh as a junior draughtsman, and features in the building have been identified as demonstrating the emergent style of the young designer. The entrance is made a prominent feature within the street-facing facade by flanking statues of a shipwright and engineer, and the head of Neptune carved into the keystone above the door.
Form follows function
As well as grand, Fairfield Offices were intended to be a functional building, serving the day-today workings of the business. The upper floor used to house ship and engine drawing offices which led to the ‘mould loft’ to the east, where life-size tracings of the ships’ plans were drawn out. Marine draughtsmen worked on plans in the drawing office and ‘loftsmen’ would draw out the tracings in the neighbouring room. To the west were the engine works, and on the ground floor, the managers’ offices and boardroom. Here contracts were wrangled, deals broken and clients entertained.