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Medicine by Design

The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893–1943

2007
Author:

Annmarie Adams

Medicine by Design

Reveals the impact of hospital design on early twentieth-century medicine

Medicine by Design examines how hospital design influenced the development of twentieth-century medicine and demonstrates the importance of these specialized buildings in the history of architecture. Annmarie Adams uses the “Royal Vic”—along with other hospitals—to explore issues in architecture and medicine, including the role of gender and class in both fields and the transformation of patients into consumers.

Annmarie Adams’s sensitivity to the experiences of patients and nurses, the vicissitudes of architectural practice, and the social evolution of modern cities moves hospitals to the center of contemporary architectural and urban history.

Dell Upton, University of California, Los Angeles

In the history of medicine, hospitals are usually seen as passive reflections of advances in medical knowledge and technology. In Medicine by Design, Annmarie Adams challenges these assumptions, examining how hospital design influenced the development of twentieth-century medicine and demonstrating the importance of these specialized buildings in the history of architecture.

At the center of this work is Montreal’s landmark Royal Victoria Hospital, built in 1893. Drawing on a wide range of visual and textual sources, Adams uses the “Royal Vic”—along with other hospitals built or modified over the next fifty years—to explore critical issues in architecture and medicine: the role of gender and class in both fields, the transformation of patients into consumers, the introduction of new medical concepts and technologies, and the use of domestic architecture and regionally inspired imagery to soften the jarring impact of high-tech medicine.

Identifying the roles played by architects in medical history and those played by patients, doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals in the design of hospitals, Adams also links architectural spaces to everyday hospital activities, from meal preparation to the ways in which patients entered the hospital and awaited treatment.

Methodologically and conceptually innovative, Medicine by Design makes a significant contribution to the histories of both architectural and medical practices in the twentieth century.

Medicine by Design

Annmarie Adams is William C. Macdonald Professor of Architecture at McGill University in Montreal, where she teaches courses in architectural history. She is author of Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870–1900 and coauthor of Designing Women: Gender and the Architectural Profession.

Medicine by Design

Annmarie Adams’s sensitivity to the experiences of patients and nurses, the vicissitudes of architectural practice, and the social evolution of modern cities moves hospitals to the center of contemporary architectural and urban history.

Dell Upton, University of California, Los Angeles

Medicine by Design brings to light a whole new area of architectural history.

Chris Thomas, author of The Lincoln Memorial and American Life

Annmarie Adams’s careful and delightful book analyses hospital design between the late-Victorian scientific revolution of the 1890s and the Second World War.

Nature

An evocative case study of the interaction of architecture and medicine.

Leonardo Reviews

Medicine By Design is scholarly but leavened by fascinating early photos and colourful tidbits. This book is informative reading for anyone interested in form and function in the evolution of modern hospital architecture.

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Adam’s book is valuable for alerting us to the potential of treating hospital architecture itself as a historical source; the book is successful in taking such places as focal points for a historical narrative.

Space & Culture

One of the wonderful things about this well-designed book is its rich set of illustrations. To the reader’s delight, architectural drawings (plans, sections, elevations, and even details), historic photographs of exterior views and interior rooms, historic postcards and advertisements from the popular press, as well as contemporary photographs are integrated into the stories of the text.

Buildings & Landscapes

Adams’s rich, satisfying and beautifully illustrated book will be of use to historians of medicine and architecture, as well as scholars. The book makes a significant contribution to ongoing, interdisciplinary research in the entwined histories of architecture and medicine.

Medical History

This book is not written in the style of dry, academic treatise, despite its careful scholarship, and I can think of no better introduction to the subject for anyone uninitiated in it.

Journal of Biological Physics and Chemistry

Adams book builds upon a generation of hospital histories while extending those authors’ arguments by elucidating the intricate dance between material culture, institutional structures, and medical practice. Practitioners and scholars alike will find the book an enjoyable and enlightening read.

Scientia Canadensis

This slim volume usefully ads an architectural dimension to the literature on hospital history in Canada.

The Canadian Historical Review

Annmarie Adams has written a thought-provoking book highlighting the active role played by architecture in the development of twentieth century medicine.

American Historical Review