When I recently happened upon the image above, I was initially disturbed by the apparent narrowness of the Medical-Dental Building. It appeared to me to be only half as wide as it ought to be.
At first, I thought that perhaps when work started on the structure, the economic downturn of the Great Depression forced the builder to focus on building just the southern slice; that the northern half would be built later to create the square footprint that I assumed was ‘natural’ for the structure.
But that was not the case.
The next image revealed my error: MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, not the square one that I’d assumed it would have. My assumption was due, in part at least, to my expectation that the older building would have had the same sort of footprint as today’s SCP has.
Features in Common and Differences
There was an attempt made by the architect of SCP (Paul Merrick, 1991) to replicate some features of the Medical-Dental building. Common features include:
- ‘Nursing sisters’ on the corners of the buildings;
- ‘Step-backs’ at higher floors;
- Use of materials having contrasting colours (on MDB, use of differently coloured brick; on SCP, use of glass and concrete);
There are many more differences between the past and present occupants of the northwest corner of Georgia at Hornby than there are commonalities:
- MDB had an ‘L’ footprint, SCP has a square one;
- MDB had an appended, above-ground, 4-storey garage attached to the Hornby arm. SCP has an underground parking garage;
- There was a single step-back at the 10th floor of the MDB. There are several step-backs on SCP;
- MDB had 17 floors. SCP has 23;
- On MDB, there were just the ‘nursing sisters’ as exterior ornaments and they appeared only at the 10th floor step-back and were of terra cotta. The nurses on SCP appear on the northeast corner just a couple of stories up and also higher on the building at the step-backs; there are other exterior ornaments on SCP, including griffins. The nurses and other ornaments on SCP are made of fibre glass;
- MDB had a blunt roofline with lighter bricks near the roof to contrast with darker brickwork below. SCP has a chateaux-style roof (which, together with the griffins, is probably a nod to the architecture of its near neighbour, the Hotel Vancouver).