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Main Entrance, University College Hospital. Gower Street, Bloomsbury, London. Architect: Alfred Waterhouse. 1906. Side view of the hospital looking South down Gower Street.
After Alfred Ainger's original building (1834) and its extension (1838-46), proved inadequate, a new hospital building was designed for the same site in 1896 by Alfred Waterhouse (1830-1905). Known as the "Cruciform Building," it was his last major work, and was actually completed a year after his death, in 1906. It seems to illustrate the point that his later designs were more efficient than aesthetically pleasing. Certainly, it compares unfavourably with, say, the Natural History Museum in Kensington. An asymmetrical complex with towers, angles and jutting out "bits," it can even be seen as rather eccentric. Reginald Turnor writes, "University College Hospital is in a style which cannot be classified and can only be called 'Waterhouse.' He was never a slave to the pointed arch, and yet his square-headed windows are not Tudorish; nor do his coarse details fit into any known category" (93). Yet there is much to say in its favour. Not least, it took account of the special needs of a hospital: "The Cruciform's bold diagonal plan with a single service core and radiating wings maintained the virtues of light and ventilation [as did the 'pavilion' style used by Henry Currey for St Thomas's Hospital] but limited horizontal circulation by stacking the wards in 4 storeys on a podium containing the support facilities" ("The Cruciform Building").
Left: Another view. Right: Old entrance. [Click on images to enlarge them.]
"The Cruciform Building History." (University College London site)/p>
Donnan, F. G., rev. K. D. Watson. "Collie, John Norman (1859-1942)." The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Viewed 16 October 2007.
Harte, Negley. The University of London, 1836-1986: An Illustrated History. London: Athlone, 1986.
Turnor, Reginald. Nineteenth Century Architecture in Britain. London: Batsford, 1950.
Weinreb, Ben and Christopher Hibbert, eds. The London Encyclopaedia. London: Macmillan, rev. ed. 1992.
Last modified 9 October 2007