Born in Edinburgh on 8th November 1774 he was the principal Government architect in Scotland in the first half of the 19th Century. His career began with a design for the law Courts in Edinburgh in 1803. He adhered to the style of the Adam brothers in his exteriors. Their Edinburgh University was the source of the Parliament Square façade of the Law Courts which is a slightly coarsened version of Adam’s finer monumental style. Reid’s work did not always appeal and the Society of Advocates and Writers to the Signet employed William Stark for the interiors of their respective libraries.
After this Sir Robert Reid was given the title of King’s Architect and Surveyor in Scotland. When James Brodie of Brodie, holder of the title Master of Works to the Scottish Crown died in 1824, Reid succeeded in getting that Office merged with his own. His salary for these posts was £500 per annum (1827). Reid retired in 1839 and went to live at Lowood near Melrose. He died in Edinburgh.
His works include: St. George’s Church, Edinburgh; Law Courts, Parliament Square; the exterior shell of the Signet and Advocates’ Libraries, Edinburgh; Bank of Scotland, The Mound, Edinburgh; restoration work at Holyrood Palace; Custom House at Leith; Numbers. 33-46 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh; Perth Prison; Perth Academy in Rose Terrace; Numbers. 1-28 Marshall Place, Perth.