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Cover for Rise of the Modern Hospital

Rise of the Modern Hospital

An Architectural History of Health and Healing, 1870-1940

Jeanne Kisacky


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Rise of the Modern Hospital is a focused examination of hospital design in the United States from the 1870s through the 1940s. This understudied period witnessed profound changes in hospitals as they shifted from last charitable resorts for the sick poor to premier locations of cutting-edge medical treatment for all classes, and from low-rise decentralized facilities to high-rise centralized structures. Jeanne Kisacky reveals the changing role of the hospital within the city, the competing claims of doctors and architects for expertise in hospital design, and the influence of new medical theories and practices on established traditions. She traces the dilemma designers faced between creating an environment that could function as a therapy in and of itself and an environment that was essentially a tool for the facilitation of increasingly technologically assisted medical procedures. Heavily illustrated with floor plans, drawings, and photographs, this book considers the hospital building as both a cultural artifact, revelatory of external medical and social change, and a cultural determinant, actively shaping what could and did take place within hospitals.

Praise For Rise of the Modern Hospital: An Architectural History of Health and Healing, 1870-1940

“This is a monumental work on hospitals in the United States from the 1870s to World War II, an influential period that saw the end of the pavilion plan and the advent of the high-rise hospital. As the first book-length study to address the architectural implications of the germ theory, it is destined to become a classic in the history of hospitals.”
 —Annmarie Adams, author of Medicine by Design: The Architect and the Modern Hospital, 1893–1943

“In her meticulously researched history of modern American hospitals, Kisacky examines the frequently elusive purposes and consequences of architectural design. Forged at the confluence of shifting medical requirements and broader cultural, civic, and economic values, her hospitals mirror in form and function the collective understanding of human well-being.” —Guenter B. Risse, author of Mending Bodies, Saving Souls: A History of Hospitals

"A major contribution to healthcare design both for the clear documentation of a critical period in the architectural evolution of our field and for pointing to questions regarding the balance of patients needs, efficiency, and building topologies that we continue to wrestle with today. Anyone working in the planning and design of hospitals, particularly younger professionals who may be engaged in this field for the first time, will find value in its publication." —Health Environments Research & Design Journal

"...a major addition to the small but growing literature on the history of modern hospital design. In arguing that the modernity of architecture cannot be understood in terms of its appearance alone, Rise of the Modern Hospital convincingly makes the case for more inclusive and nuanced kinds of architectural history." —Social History of Medicine

“A basic reference for anyone starting to research the topic of health and architecture, particularly thanks to its very rich and complete bibliographical references and a brilliant bibliographic essay.” —Technology and Culture

Rise of the Modern Hospital is an excellent scholarly resource on the development of a pivotal building type during a dynamic period, especially relevant given our renewed interest in the ways that health and architecture interact.” —Journal of the Society for Architectural Historians

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822944614, 456pp.

Publication Date: January 28, 2017

About the Author

Jeanne Kisacky is an independent scholar. She has taught classes on the topic of health and architecture as an adjunct instructor at Cornell University, Binghamton University, and Syracuse University.