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The Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital: A Moral Architecture

By Holly Roland

From the Author: This paper is the product of an assignment from Goucher’s architecture (art history) course that asked students to research a historic building in the Baltimore area. Being a psychology major, I was strongly drawn towards exploring the nearby Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, an institution that has been of extreme historical and medical importance for over a century. Still a nationally recognized example of excellent and unique mental health care, Sheppard Pratt’s legacy lives on mere miles from Goucher’s campus. I hope this paper provides readers with insight into how architecture impacts psychological well being and brings light to the universal importance of this relationship.

From the Faculty Nominator: Holly wrote her paper for my course, ART 278, European and American Architecture, 1750-1900, in Fall 2007. Students in the class were asked to start with a specific Baltimore building, analyze that building's style and form, and suggest its content and meaning. Students were then required to identify a direction for further research based on those intitial observations and ideas,to develop a research plan, and to write a thoroughly-developed paper.

Holly's finished paper on the Shephard and Enoch Pratt Hospital, the result of this process, is an intellectually sophisticated discussion that places the building's physical properties and its functions in a broad historical context. In her paper, Holly synthesizes material from architectural history, landscape design, and the history of the treatment of mental illness, and presents a well-crafted, convincing argument for the way in which the physical, built environment can express cultural ideals and aspirations. I am particularly impressed with the scope of Holly's research; the range of materials brought together in her final paper is unusually broad and deep, encompassing primary documents from archival sources, scholarly articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, and contemporary newspaper reports. Holly's paper is a testament to her diligence and imagination, and a model of undergraduate research.

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