Devane, Andrew (‘Andy’) (1917–2000), architect, was born 3 November 1917 at 1 Upper Hartstonge St. in the heart of Limerick city, the eldest of four sons of John Francis Devane, medical doctor, and his wife Vera (née Keogh). He was educated at Belvedere College, Dublin, from which he transferred (1929) to Clongowes Wood College, Co. Kildare, joined a year later by his brother Cornelius. Both left in 1936 but Andrew returned in the 1960s as the architect of Clongowes's modern extensions, including its science block. He studied architecture at UCD, graduating in 1941, and was greatly inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright, the leading American modernist from rural Wisconsin, whose buildings represented modernism on a human scale in calm, natural settings. Devane himself was a particularly spiritual person who appreciated Wright's harmony of synthesis and creation rather than conquest, which modernism frequently imposed on its environment. His homage to Wright was established in 1946 when he wrote directly to him, challenging Wright to prove his greatness. An equally challenging response suggested he come to Wisconsin and see for himself.
Devane visited Wright's Taliesin project and wrote admiringly of it in the RIAI Yearbook 1946. Wright contributed to the same publication and Devane spent two years at his practice. On his return to Ireland (1948) he applied to his own projects the horizontal and curved lines of Wright's iconic buildings. Like Wright's conscious retreat from the urban, Devane's architecture stood back from the built-up environment: schools, hospitals, and churches, even office blocks, in landscaped or tranquil settings. Not for him the stark concrete pile amid roaring traffic. Water features, shaded porches, vegetation, and sculpture created the rus in urbe of his most notable works. In the sense that Wright had taken from Japan some of the Zen-like elements of oriental art, Devane followed suit, down to the goldfish pond of his airy design for Mount Carmel Hospital (1960) at Churchtown, Dublin. His own Dublin home, Journey's End (1962) in Howth, was a modernist, curvilinear structure, set in a sea-facing palm garden.
Artistically, ‘Andy’ Devane was in the league of Michael Scott (qv), architect of Dublin's internationally acclaimed Busáras (1944–53) and doyen of Irish modernism, if less influenced than Scott by the metropolitan verticality of Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe. Devane preferred the contemplative space of buildings such as own mortuary chapel at the church of SS Mary and David near Naas, Co. Kildare (1954). He joined the firm of Robinson & Keefe in 1945 and participated in some of its leading projects, notably the Carroll's Building (1964) at Grand Parade on the south bank of the Grand Canal, Dublin. Its original design incorporated a street-level garden feature and internal public lecture space, contributing to the more positive architectural legacy of economic expansion in the 1960s. Similarly, Devane designed Ireland's showcase pavilion at the New York World's Fair of 1964. As a partner in the firm he designed further landmark buildings for Robinson Keefe Devane in and around Dublin, notably his church of Our Lady Queen of Heaven (1964) at Dublin airport and St Fintan's church in Sutton (1973).
Devane's large but relatively low-rise Irish Life Centre (1977), facing Beresford Place and Lower Abbey St., Dublin, with its central court and fountain sculpture ‘Chariot of fire’ (1978) by Oisín Kelly (qv), focuses attention on the setting rather than on his somewhat overbearing brown buildings. His smaller Stephen's Court on St Stephen's Green is in rather the same style. Both structures are important examples of their kind, if only to prove that progressive urban planning does not demand enormity of scale. Devane's major work, retaining his first principles of landscaping and artistic elements, is the AIB Dublin headquarters (1979) in Ballsbridge, south of the city centre. His three-sided layout facing into an orientalist garden, complete with oblong pond, bridge, and dramatic sculpture ‘Freedom’ by Alexandra Wejchert (qv) (1985), is grander in scale than his earlier works but the landscaping offsets its size. Further hanging vegetation on the buildings blends his design more closely with the natural environment; the ‘holistic’ effect frequently attributed to Devane's architecture. Other projects which reflect his essential holism of design included St Vincent's Private Hospital and Tallaght Hospital, the Inchicore vocational school, Gonzaga College, and St Patrick's Training College, all in Dublin, and his alma mater at Clongowes.
Andy Devane had three sons with his wife Maureen (née Ashe) (d. 1977). In the early 1980s he retired to India to assist in poverty relief in Calcutta. Robinson Keefe Devane remained at the forefront of Irish architectural design with projects such as its remarkable Independent House (2000) at Dublin's Citywest Business Campus. Meanwhile, in Calcutta, Devane designed a boys’ home (1999), his last work before his death on 15 January 2000.