Architect, of Dublin. William Albert Dixon was born in Co. Dublin in 1892. On leaving school in about 1909 he entered the office of LAURENCE ALOYSIUS MCDONNELL at 20 Ely Place, Dublin; the 1911 census records him as an architect's assistant, living with his widowed mother at 12 Anglesea Avenue, Blackrock. He also attended classes at the Metropolitan School of Art circa 1915. In 1917 he became McDonnell's partner. He was in charge of the practice of MCDONNELL & amp; DIXON for some time before McDonnell's death in 1925 and continued to run it from the same premises for the rest of his career. In 1928 he took JOSEPH VINCENT DOWNES into partnership. Downes remained with the practice, still officially called McDonnell & Dixon but also referred to as McDonnell, Dixon & Downes and Dixon & Downes, until 29 September 1935, when the partnership was officially dissolved and Downes left to open his own office. Dixon himself probably ceased to participate actively in 1964 or 1965, after which he no longer gave 20 Ely Place as his address in the journal of the RIAI, although he continued to be listed among the partners as a consultant until the end of his life. His obituarist in the RIAI Year Book writes: 'His pride in the achievements of the firm - first in the competition for the Dublin Civic Offices, second in that for the Cork City Hall, first Town Planning appointment outside Dublin and Dun Laoghaire and other awards - remained modest but enduring. But it was in the immense if little noticed contribution which he and his colleagues made over a long period to the economic production of urgently needed commercial housing, that he took greatest pride.'
Dixon died in October 1978. He is described as unobtrusive, reticent 'and in his wide ranging charity almost secretive' by his obituarist, who recalls Dixon's continuing gratitude to the AAI for the assistance which it had given to him and other architects of his generation. His pupils and assistants included RICHARD LLEWELLYN BURGESS and EDMUND LIONEL CROSBY.
Besides the drawings by Dixon included in the McDonnell & Dixon Collection ( (Acc. 2008/81), the Irish Architectural Archive holds (on loan from the King's Inns Archives) the series of measured drawings of the King's Inns, Dublin, which were awarded the AAI's Downes Bronze Medal in 1916 (Acc. 2007/10.4/14-17).
AAI: elected member, 1911; Institute Prize and Class of Design First Prize, 1912; President's Prize, 1914; Vice-President's Prize, 1915; Downes Bronze Medal, 1916; vice-president 1922-23; president, 1925-26.
RIAI: student, 1918; elected member, 1920; raised to fellow, 1931; hon. secretary, 1928-1930; vice-president, 1931; council member, 1932.
Addresses: Work: 20 Ely Place, Dublin, c.1909-c.1965.
Home: 12 Anglesea Avenue, Blackrock, 1911; 10 Anglesea Avenue,1927-1928; Hamilton Lodge, Mount Merrion Ave, Blackrock, 1930-1934; Greenfield, Stillorgan Road, Donnybrook, 1937-1956; 1 Brookfield, Anglesea Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin, 1967-71; Castlewarden, Straffan, Co. Kildare, 1972-1976.
See WORKS and works of MCDONNELL & amp; DIXON for works up to 1964.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituary of Dixon in RIAI Year Book (1979), 56, and from a brief article in the Irish Times Architectural Supplement, 21 Jun 1939, 28. A portrait photograph is in IAA Green Book (1926), 26, 22; he also appears in a group photographs of members of council of the RIAI in IB 74, 27 Feb 1932, 200.
His design for a loggia with a library over it was shown at the School's annual exhibtion of students' work in December 1915, see Irish Times, 27 Dec 1915.
Downes gives 20 Ely Place as his address for the first time in the RIAI membership list for 1929.
IB 78, 25 Jan 1936, 79.
RIAI membership lists.
Thom's Dublin Street Directory 1978-9, 328 (sub 20 Ely Pl).
Much of this housing was for the Dublin Commercial Public Utility Society.
Information from AAI Green Books.
His prize-winning design for a pier pavilion was published in IB 54, 6 Jul 1912, 394,supplement.
These are presumably his measured drawings of the King's Inns now in the King's Inns Archives (H5/5); two plans are reproduced in E. McParland, James Gandon (1985), 166.
Information from JRIAI (1919), 3, JRIAI (1921), 2, JRIAI (1932), 21, and lists of officers in JRIAI.
Information from RIAI journals and year books and Thom's directories.