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Medical School Construction -Then and Now

As construction on the Scott McKinley Research Building progresses the streetscape along McKinley Avenue is transforming. From a suburban-like landscape with set-back buildings surrounded by parking lots, the new construction will return a more urban feel to the city street.

Looking west along McKinley Avenue before construction, June 2013, and during construction, June 2014.

Looking west along McKinley Avenue before construction, June 2013.   Looking west along McKinley Avenue during construction, June 2014.

 

The Scott McKinley Research Building will house labs from the Department of Genetics, the Center for Genome Sciences & Systems Biology, the Department of Medicine, and the Department of Developmental Biology. It is expected to be completed in June 2015, one hundred years after the Washington University School of Medicine moved to its current campus in St. Louis’s Central West End.

At the beginning of the 20th century the Washington University School of Medicine was located downtown on Locust Street between 18th and 19th streets. But with the reorganization of the medical school after the Flexner Report a new location for the school, and the soon to be built Barnes Hospital, was chosen further west near the border of Forest Park. A single architect, Theodore Link, who also designed St. Louis Union Station and the International Shoe Company Building, was selected to design both the medical school and Barnes Hospital. Construction began in 1913.

Back in the 1910’s construction work was mostly done by hand with little use of powered tools or machinery. The excavations for the medical center buildings were done with shovels and carts pulled by donkeys.

Excavation for Barnes Hospital buildings, circa 1913.

Excavation for Barnes Hospital buildings, circa 1913.

 

Foundation work for Washington University Medical Center buildings, circa 1913.

Foundation work for Washington University Medical Center buildings, circa 1913.

 

Construction was largely completed by the end of 1914. Barnes Hospital opened in December of 1914 and the dedication of the new medical school buildings took place in April of 1915.

Today's construction along McKinley Avenue is reminiscent of the view of the street over one hundred years ago and a block to the west when the medical school's South Building was under construction.

Scott McKinley building under construction along McKinley Avenue, June 1914.    The Washington University School of Medicine’s South Building under construction

 

The South Building today.

South Building, Washington University School of Medicine, circa 1914.

In its one hundred year history, the South Building has had 12 Nobel Laureates work or train within its laboratories, including Gerty Cori, the first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and Edwin G. Krebs, a 1943 graduate of the Washington University School of Medicine. On September 21, 2004 the South Building was named a National Historic Chemical Landmark by the American Chemical Society in honor of the Nobel Prize winning work done by Gerty Cori and her husband, Carl Cori, in their South Building lab. A commemorative plaque has been placed near the McKinley entrance to the South Building.

National Historic Chemical Landmark plaque, McKinley entrance, South Building.          National Historic Chemical Landmark plaque, McKinley entrance, South Building.

 

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