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William McCrea was born on 4 February 1896 to Agnes McArthur MacKintosh and John McCrea, a bank agent. He was educated at Kirkcaldy High School, and upon leaving school was was articled to architect David Forbes Smith of Kirkcaldy. He attended The Glasgow School of Art as a day student of architecture from 1919 to 1922, and as an evening student from 1922 to 1926. During this time he worked as a draughtsman at various offices in Glasgow, including James Miller and John Burnet, Son & Dick. In 1922 he studied in Northern France for several months. From 1924 to 1928 he was an assistant to architect James Taylor Thomson, where in 1936 he was promoted to chief assistant. He became as a partner to Thomson the following year, but his name was not acknowledged in the practice title until around 1942. He was admitted ARIBA in 1928 and elected FRIBA in 1943. From 1953 to 1954 McCrea was President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects, and in 1955 was elected President of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS). He died on 3 June 1974. William McCrea is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's World War One Roll of Honour.
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