This paper considers the work of Bostonand Toronto-based architects Edward Stevens and Frederick Lee during a critical period in North American hospital expansion. Without exception, their hospitals represented state-of-the-art planning wrapped in conservative exteriors. The firm's work thus offers a rich case study from which to consider the notion of historicist design as a mechanism for coping with change. This paper focuses on five Stevens-and-Lee projects: Notre Dame Hospital and two additions to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, the Kingston General Hospital, and the Ottawa Civic Hospital. Their buildings can be considered typical of the period, since Stevens and Lee designed prominent hospitals across North America. An interpretation of the hospitals is further enriched by the prospect of comparing what was built to the architects' own words. Edward Stevens's The American Hospital of the Twentieth Century (1918) is a classic in the field of hospital architecture, and he published extensively in the architectural and medical professional presses. The study of Steven's words and his hospitals illuminates the inherent danger of regarding historicist building types as antimodern or necessarily conventional. It also reveals the paucity of stylistic interpretations of all architecture. This approach has resulted in the widespread misinterpretation of interwar hospitals as reactionary, or at best antimodern. For this reason, hospitals of the 1920s are generally omitted from studies of the building type and are seen, mistakenly, as simple reverberations of the nineteenth-century model. Generic hospital architecture of the interwar years was modern in its spatial attitudes-not necessarily its look, but rather in its structure, its endorsement of aseptic medical practice, its sanctioning of expert knowledge, its appeal to new patrons, its encouragement of new ways of working, its response to urbanization, its use of zoning, its acceptance of modern social structures, its resemblance to other modern building types, its embrace of internationalism, and its endorsement of standardization.
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Research Article| March 01 1999
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Annmarie Adams; Modernism and Medicine: The Hospitals of Stevens and Lee, 1916-1932. Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 1 March 1999; 58 (1): 42–61. doi: https://doi.org/10.2307/991436
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