Annmarie Adams's Medicine by Design wears its learning lightly. But readers should not be fooled. This is an erudite volume, remarkable for the depth of its research and the thoughtfulness of its argument. Medicine by Design tells the story of a handful of hospitals (and additions to hospitals) in order to refute the oversimplified notion that innovation in medical practice drove architectural change. Adams's starting position is that this was a reciprocal and iterative process wherein architects influenced doctors and vice versa.

The full title, Medicine by Design: The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893––1943, suggests a much larger topic than the one covered; indeed, Adams's book is far from comprehensive, but, except in the title, she makes no claims to that effect. In fact, the book places one hospital at its center, the Royal Victoria Hospital in Montreal, and...

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