SAH 2023 Annual International Conference


2023 Eduard F. Sekler Talk

Shift Work: The Hospital in Histories of Architecture and Medicine

By Annmarie Adams

Friday, April 14, 2023
6:00–7:00 PM EST
CHUM - Centre hospitalier de l'Université de Montréal
Amphithéâtre Pierre-Péladeau, Pavillon A, 1050 rue Saint-Denis, Montréal
Video will be available soon.

Where do medicine and architecture intersect? This illustrated talk probes the role of the built environment in the rise of the medical humanities. Medical historians tend to see architecture as an illustration of medical progress, while architectural historians engage the built environment as evidence of medical change. We live in interesting times! The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the ways that hospitals have both accommodated and shaped care.  

Drawing on my personal experience in architectural and medical education, I will comment on hospitals and architectural activism, including the importance of listening to historically muted voices and the re-use of heritage institutions; I offer a glimpse of what it is like (and why it is important) to teach medical students about architecture; and finally, I show how and why I’m using the tools and methods of architectural history to write a medical/feminist biography.

Annmarie Adams

The work of Annmarie Adams bridges the worlds of architectural and medical history. Adams has served as both Director of the School of Architecture, where she has taught for more than 30 years, and Chair of the Department of Social Studies of Medicine at McGill University in Montréal. She currently holds the Stevenson Chair in the Philosophy and History of Science, including Medicine. Her award-winning books include Architecture in the Family Way: Doctors, Houses, and Women, 1870–1900; ‘Designing Women’: Gender and the Architectural Profession (co-authored with Peta Tancred), and Medicine by Design: The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893–1943. Her expertise on health and design is much cited by the media, including The Atlantic, Elle Décor, Financial Times Magazine, The Guardian, Nature, New York Times, and WIRED. Adams’ awards include the Jason Hannah Medal from the Royal Society of Canada, a Health Career Award from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and a YWCA Woman of Distinction prize. She is a Fellow of both the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada and the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences. She has served on the SAH Board of Directors and is currently vice president of the Canadian Society for the History of Medicine. This year Adams is on sabbatical to complete a spatial biography of cardiologist and museum curator Maude Abbott.

Photo credits: Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, circa 2012, photo by Don Toromanoff. Annmarie Adams at McMaster University Medical Centre, September 2022, photo by Georgia Kirkos.


About the Eduard F. Sekler Talk

The Eduard F. Sekler Talk was established in 2018 by a gift from Patricia Sekler in honor of her late husband, architectural historian and longtime SAH member Eduard F. Sekler (1920–2017). The Sekler Talk brings a notable speaker to the SAH membership each year to address a topic related to architecture, urbanism, preservation, the state of the field of architectural history, or a combination thereof.

In 1955 Sekler joined the faculty at Harvard University, where he became the first director of Harvard’s renowned Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts. Sekler joined SAH in 1958 and served two terms on the Board of Directors (1963–1966 and 1970–1973). He also served on the local planning committee for the Society’s 1969 annual conference held in Boston. He retired as Harvard's Osgood Hooker Emeritus Professor of Visual Art and Emeritus Professor of Architecture.

Past Talks

2022 – "On Architecture and the Restitution of Cultural Heritage" by Itohan Osayimwese
2021 – "Architectural History or a Geography of Small Spaces?" by Swati Chattopadhyay
2020 – “The Home of the Oppressed”: Democracy, Slavery and American Civic Architecture by Mabel O. Wilson
2019 – "On the Future History of Modern Architecture," by Joan Ockman


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610