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22 March 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.

images: archives.mcgill.ca



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is it me or the building hasn't "aged" well??

11:56 pm  
Blogger Jason Stockl said...

Unfortunately, like many projects from the 60's, it hasn't aged very well.

Neither has the McIntyre Medical building, for that matter...

7:34 am  
Blogger Jack Ruttan said...

Maybe in about 2050, (if it survives), it will be cool and crazy, like a lot of ugly Victorian buildings.

Kind of like the medical building, if it's the round one you can see from the top of the mountain. Looks like a model from "Fireball XL5"

5:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The building isn't that well laid out, in my opinion. The glass-walled corridors are too narrow for the traffic coming and going from Leacock 132, which is the 650-seat lecture hall you mention in your post. If I recall correctly, there are no washrooms on ground level either. Then again, they didn't have a huge plot of land to work with.

9:58 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The original plan was to build a second almost identical on the open piece of land to the west, but the government funding for education buildings came to an abrupt end with the announcement of a funding moratorium by the Union Nationale government. Thus the second building, and the overall plan for the Arts complex were never realized. The McGill Faculty of Arts is still waiting for an integrated faculty complex forty years later.

5:10 pm  

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