THE NEW WING
Perhaps the greatest turning point in terms of the buildings of the Royal Victoria Hospital came in 1955 with the opening of the ‘New Wing’. The first major construction since before the great depression, it reflected both advances in medical technology and architectural thinking. Designed by Montreal Architects Barrot, Marshall, Montgomery and Merrett, it was the largest structure built on the hospital grounds since Saxon Snell’s original buildings of 1893.
Studies on long term planning by the hospital’s board of governors in 1948 called for important decisions to be made about the future direction of care offered by the Royal Victoria. The priorities identified in these studies highlighted the need for semi-private accommodations, operating room facilities, kitchen and dining facilities, a new x-ray department, and central supply. The complexity of planning saw the formation of several sub-committees which represented each department involved and reported to the board of governors and the construction committee.
The challenge of selecting a site for the new building followed primarily from the fact that the most advantageous portions of the hospital grounds had already been used for construction. Following the addition of the Women's Pavilion in 1926, the choices for further major additions were limited. The desire to place the New Wing in a central location in order to modernize the distribution system amongst the hospital pavilions logically implied that the building would be placed behind the Administration Building but below the ridge atop which the Ross and Women's Pavilions were situated. This was a site that had previously been avoided for major construction due to its steep slope and solid rock face. Ultimately, of the 300 feet that made up the new corridor connecting the New Wing to the Administration Building and its main entrance, 200 feet were blasted out of solid rock, a feat accomplished without disturbing the daily hospital routine.
Ten stories high and 375 feet long, the New Wing was primarily intended as a surgical wing, and contained no administrative spaces save the nurses stations needed to supervise each floor. The upper four floors served as patient accommodations, with a total of 64 bedrooms, 4 two-bed rooms, and 20 single rooms.