Dr Mhairi McVicar PhD, NCARB (USA), M Arch, BSc Hons in Architecture Studies

Dr Mhairi McVicar

PhD, NCARB (USA), M Arch, BSc Hons in Architecture Studies

Project Lead of Community Gateway

+44 (0)29 2087 4634
Room 3.25A, Bute Building, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3NB


Director of Engagement Project Lead, Community Gateway
Unit Tutor BSc Architectural Design 3 Higher degree supervisor (MPhil / PhD) Dissertation Supervisor (MArch)

External activities

Fellow of the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) WSA representative on Royal Society of Architects in Wales Council (RSAW)

Other information

Mhairi is one of eight university staff who developed Community Gateway during a Cardiff Futures leadership course in 2012. After studying in Scotland and Chicago, she worked in architectural practice in Chicago and London. She joined Cardiff University in 2006, and has taught in Architectural Design, Technology, and History and Theory. She is a Council member of the Royal Society of Architects in Wales, and a former Chair of the south wales branch, Design Circle, through which she coordinated several public architectural exhibitions, including 'Reflecting Wales' and 'What Architects Do.'

Mhairi joined WSA in 2006, following architectural practice in the UK and USA where she worked on a range of social housing, theatrical, ecclesiastical,  commercial and private residential architectural projects, including a Heritage centre and a self-build residence in the Orkney Islands as Director of a private practice.

She recently completed a PhD at Cardiff University on ’Precision in architectural production.’ Prior to this, Mhairi graduated with a Masters in Architecture from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, and a BSc First class Honours from Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Aberdeen. She previously taught at the School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Chicago.






  • Kite, S., McVicar, M. T. and Odgers, J. A. eds. 2011. Economy : abstracts.. Cardiff: Cardiff University, Welsh School of Architecture.





Teaching profile

Mhairi’s teaching in architecture is primarily focused in Grangetown, Cardiff, facilitated through her role as Project Lead of Community Gateway. Working with the support of a long term partnership between Cardiff University and Grangetown which begins with community led ideas, skills, and expertise to inform and develop university teaching and research, Mhairi’s teaching builds upon established engagement partnerships with a geographically defined local community, encouraging students to collaborate and to build on previous interdisciplinary research and ideas within design and dissertation work.

Research interests

Mhairi’s research focuses on the processes and values of architectural practice. Her PhD on Precision in architectural production investigated the pursuit and consequences of precision in architectural practice by interpreting technical written, drawn, oral, and built evidence associated with constructed architectural details as poetic and cultural statements, focusing on architectural details constructed between 1856-2006, including works by Sigurd Lewerentz, Mies van der Rohe, Caruso St John Architects, and OMA.

Mhairi’s current research links closely to her role as Academic lead of Cardiff University’s Community Gateway, and focuses on the role and value of the architect in engagement with community-led development. In 2015, Mhairi received a RIBA Research Trust Award, with co-investigator Neil Turnbull, to research the value of the Architect in a Community Asset Transfer. This ongoing action research is embedded within a live community project through Cardiff University’s Community Gateway, in collaboration with resident organisations seeking to convert a vacant Bowls Pavilion into an active community resource.