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The man behind the vision for Bryanston’s signature building
Following on from the recent announcement by Historic England that Bryanston’s design and technology building has been awarded Grade II listed status, we wanted to shed some light on the man whose vision helped bring the building to life.
Frank Bristow arrived at Bryanston in 1973 as a metalwork and silversmithing teacher. At that time, the school’s future Director of Technology was teaching in a leaking corrugated metal shack, so you can perhaps understand what gave him the impetus to strive for a more inspirational learning environment.
During the 1980s there was a government push on technology in schools and the governors were keen to make a statement about the future of Bryanston. Frank’s vision, described by colleagues as being ahead of his time, was for the school to embrace new technology, and as such was instrumental in the early adoption of Macs.
In his former life, Frank had worked in an architects office, so he was able to contribute ideas to the design of the new building. It wasn’t long before he was also project managing the site, managing communications with the contractors and keeping them on budget.
Speaking fondly about Frank, former Headmaster of Bryanston, Tom Wheare said:
“It is a fine thing to have a building named after you, but a far finer thing to have not one, but two buildings built because of you.
“The [design and technology] building reaffirmed a crucial feature of the school – that there should be free spaces for free thinking and innovation, and corners where pupils could, quite simply, escape.”
Frank wasn’t the only member of staff who made his mark on this iconic building. Tony Blunt, who was employed as a welder at the time, was involved in the trusses on the roof and was subsequently offered a job teaching these skills to Bryanston pupils.
Built between 1986 and 1988, the building has distinctive external columns in the style of oversized screws topped with windows that look like computer screens, reflecting the activities that take place inside.
Designed by architects CZWG, a celebrated British post-modernist practice, the building is one of just 24 post-modernist buildings to have gained listed status.