McIntyre Medical Sciences Building – McGill University

Architects: Marshall and Merrett

Opened: 1965


In 1947, a 10-acre property was donated to McGill University by the McIntyre family, in honor of the Canadian Pacific Railway founder Duncan McIntyre (1834-1894), after the demolition of his mansion on the site. It was first used as the University’s tennis courts and wildlife area, until it was chosen in 1965 for the location of the new medical building due to its strategic location between the Royal Victoria and Montreal General teaching hospitals. The white cylindrical sixteen floor McIntyre Medical Sciences Building houses the main non-clinical parts of McGill’s Faculty of Medicine, including classrooms, research facilities, laboratories, offices and cafeteria. Additionally, the building accommodates the Life Science Library as well as the Sir William Osler Library, which is Canada’s top scholarly resource in the history of medicine and one of the most important libraries of its type in North America and the world.

Situated on the south slope of Mount Royal, between Avenue des Pins and Avenue Docteur-Penfield, there was a 20-meter difference between the two required entrances, rendering it as a relatively difficult site. Architects Marshall and Merrett proposed a circular tower with a central elevator core as the appropriate solution. The distinctive circular shape of the building allowed the new central hub for McGill’s top rated faculty of medicine to stand out as a modern landmark, aided by its large size, high elevation and contrast with the neighboring historical buildings of the campus and Montreal in general. Ready for Expo 67, in which countries presented pavilions boasting the latest technology and advancement in various fields, the McIntyre Medical Science Building did no less. It represented McGill and Canada’s pride in the advanced medical program the university offers and its high visibility throughout the city allows it to stand out as a beacon expressing that success.

In 1998, architects Affleck + de la Riva were commissioned to renovate the building’s façade due to water and air leakages in the original construction. As a creative solution with a low budget and out of respect for the original architecture, the architects kept the original façade in place and added aluminum casing to it, creating proper sealing and allowing the building to accommodate the requirement for various air pressure levels throughout.

McGill was forced by the Quebec government in 2002 to fix the ventilation system of the McIntyre building, after having received their official warnings in 2000 due to complaints from the faculty and staff. The inspection in November 2002 revealed that the ventilation system of the building that teaches medicine failed to provide clean fresh air. Instead it was merely recycling old air, causing people to get ill on several occasions. McGill was requested to perform a renovation that cost several million dollars.

The McIntyre Medical Sciences Building at McGill remains one of Montreal’s highly visible buildings, defining its skyline, which is equivalent to the importance of the university itself within the city on social, economical and cultural levels.











written by Hanna Salameh