Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Stephen Leacock Building

Like Montreal itself, McGill University experienced a building boom in the 1960's. A dramatic climb in enrollment during this period meant that faculties and departments were outgrowing their spaces. Construction projects all over campus sought to fill this void, including a new building for the Faculty of Arts.

Leacock was strategically connected to the ancestral Arts building.

Built in 1965, the Leacock building was named after Stephen Leacock, a well-known Canadian humorist and author, and a McGill professor from 1901 to 1944. The exterior of the 10-storey structure was made of precast load-bearing concrete panels, each of which contained a sealed window. Concrete pillars helped support some of the projected portions of the structure, including a corridor that connected the tower to the old Arts building. The first floor circulation passageways were designed to be lit for the most part by natural daylight, which entered through glass walls on the east and south sides.

A student lounge area, complete with ashtrays.

A typical 60's Leacock office, left, and the glass walled corridor to Arts, right.

Inside, the first 3 floors were reserved for student and lecture areas. These lower floors were accessible from terraces located on the second and third floors, or the first floor street level entrance. This was intended to keep student traffic to a minimum.

Some 24 lecture halls ranged in capacity from 30 to 200, not including a 650-seat auditorium located on the first floor. The latter was designed with no windows (to provide fewer distractions), and its seats sloped in the same direction as the natural hillside.

The upper tower was reserved for 125 offices, accessible by elevator.

A mod council room in the Leacock building.

A little known fact is that the Stephen Leacock building was originally planned as two towers. Had this been the case, Morrice Hall, a beautiful Collegiate Gothic style structure built in 1871 (and still standing today) would have been demolished for the second tower...

Leacock and Morrice Hall (formerly The Presbyterian College of Montreal).

View from Doctor Penfield Avenue.


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