File 243 - Pathological Building

Title and statement of responsibility area

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Pathological Building

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Reference code

CA CAC 1-3-243

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Dates of creation area


  • April 1922-January 1924 (Architect)
    Nobbs & Hyde

Physical description area

Physical description

228 drawings: 25 ink on linen; 4 ink on paper; 1 ink on card; 122 pencil on paper; 3 watercolour on paper; 65 blueprints; 8 black line
22 photographs
textual records (1 folder)

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Scope and content

University laboratory and hospital; stone; steel frame.
6 survey drawings: topographical plan; sections, site plan, plot plan, park
2 sketch drawings: plan, elevations, section
3 presentation drawings: elevation to University St., elevation to yard, elevation and section to Pine Ave.
17 development drawings; floor plans, elevations, sections
40 working drawing: excavation plan, floor plans, roof plan, elevations, sections, landscaping, reflected ceiling, tunnel
116 detail drawings: staircases, gateways, stonework (including gables, arches, windows, granitework, coping, dormers, gab lets, vase finials, ornament, chimney), refrigerator, entrance hall and doorway, elevator door, inscription panel, lettering, plinth, skylight, sill, turret, cornice, corbel, ironwork (incl. staircase, gate, vanes, lamp brackets, railings), room interiors, doors, steps, theatres, eaves, woodwork (including stair, doors, trims, lighting, beams, columns), copper, ridges, screens, gates, vent stacks, ceiling, fittings, plasterwork (including cornices, ornament), marblework
39 consultant drawings: heating and ventilation floor plans, plumbing and electrical floor plans (including equipment and rooms), foundation, structure, windows, elevator
5 record drawings: block plan, floor plans, elevations, section, exterior perspective
22 photographs: 1 elevation; 2 plans; 8 perspectives; 5 construction; 4 finished exteriors; 1 finished interior; 1 other
1 file folder: correspondence

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General note

Ramsay Traquair and William Carless, associate architects. Stevens and Lee, consulting architects. Contemporaneous translations of Latin inscriptions on exterior: "Sedibus et causis moriborum per anatomen et experimenta indagandis" (Seat and causes of diseases to be studied through anatomy and experiments); "Hic est locus ubi mors resurgens rediviva est" (Here is the place where death arises to new life); "Hic est locus ubi mors gaudet succerrere vitae" (Here is the place where death rejoices to be of service to life); "Nihil sic revocat a pecato quam frequens mortis meditatio" (Nothing prevents error or sin so much as frequent contemplation of death).

General note

“Perhaps the finest embodiment of Nobb’s sensitivity to the urban landscape is the Pathological Institute, a joint undertaking of McGill and the Royal Victoria Hospital, built to house the hospital’s pathology department and the McGill Medical School’s departments of pathology, bacteriology, and medical jurisprudence.” --Susan Wagg, Percy Erskine Nobbs: Architect, Artist, Craftsman (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982) , 41. -- --Nobbs was conscious of the disparity in size between the massive Royal Victoria Hospital to the west and a series of small row houses to the east, and even as he fulfilled the complex requirements of a highly specialized modern laboratory and teaching facility, he met the equally formidable aesthetic challenge presented by the surroundings. --Susan Wagg, Percy Erskine Nobbs: Architect, Artist, Craftsman (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982) , 41-42. -- --“Following the example of his teacher Lorimer, Nobbs designed an original creation based, not on any particular historical structure, but on his own thorough understanding and love of old Scottish buildings….Remaining true to his Arts and Crafts training, Nobbs respected the individuality of the craftsmen, the material and the site….He states the theme of the Pathological Institute by means of a Latin inscription carved over the archway facing Pine Avenue. Translated, the words read: “Here is the place where death comes forth again in life.” Everything about this building speaks of the triumph of life over death: the structures purpose and theme, the organic quality of its random masonry and asymmetry, [and] the way in which the old forms and techniques find new uses.” --Susan Wagg, Percy Erskine Nobbs: Architect, Artist, Craftsman (Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1982) , 43-44. --

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