In 1957, Spence, Glover and Ferguson were awarded a major contract to create a prestigious new headquarters for the wealthy insurance company, Scottish Widows Fund and Life Assurance Society. Although wishing to remain in its original location in the heart of the city’s financial district, the company was keen to shed its Victorian image. The original Victorian office block was therefore demolished in order to clear the site and make way for the new building.
When designing the building, the architects strove for simplicity. The seven-storey building is almost square in plan, with the lower level clad in polished black granite to match the neighbouring office building to the north. The main face of the building is a made up of window units and marble slabs, giving a grid like appearance.
The building asserted the status of the company with the materials used and also in the design of its interior; the entrance area and the first floor (used by directors) were opulently treated with marble floors, walls and ceilings. Spence took a particular interest in the overall design details of the building, due to the prominence of the site and the importance of the client.
Scottish Widows included property development in its investment portfolio and only a decade later, Spence was given the contract for another new HQ at Dalkeith Road in the south side of Edinburgh.