Friday, January 25, 2013

The changing shape of MGH


The MGH has taken on many shapes and sizes during its lengthy 201-year history. In 1875, pavilion wards, at right, were constructed as a means to isolate patients from one another in an attempt to avoid the spread of illness. The idea behind these quickly-built single-story wards was that they would be used for 10 years then torn down and replaced, as it was thought they would be impregnated with disease. They were constructed where the White, Gray and Bigelow buildings now stand.

The colorful history behind these wards was just one of the many stories shared by David Hanitchak, RA, former director of Planning and Construction at the MGH and current principal at NBBJ, during his presentation “The Morphing of MGH: Architecture Reflects Changing Patterns of Care” on Jan. 23 at the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation. Hanitchak’s lecture included a visual history of the plans and strategies for developing the MGH main campus over the past two centuries.

The museum’s lecture series will continue next month as Jordan Smoller, MD, ScD, of the Center for
Human Genetic Research at the MGH, speaks about his work on how biology is providing clues to unlocking
the secrets of normal and abnormal behavior. The lecture, from 6 to 8 pm on Feb. 5, is based on his book, 
The Other Side of Normal.

Programs are free and open to the public. For more information, visit the museum’s website at or email

Read more articles from the 01/25/13 Hotline issue.

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