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Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane: Then, Now and ? An Illustrated Lecture with Architect Robert Kirkbride
Morbid Anatomy Museum
Brooklyn, NY
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Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane: Then, Now and ? An Illustrated Lecture with Architect Robert Kirkbride
Date: Wednesday, March 30th
Time: 7pm
Admission: $8
Location: Morbid Anatomy Museum, 424 Third Avenue, 11215 Brooklyn.

In this illustrated lecture, Dr. Kirkbride will discuss the remarkable origins, difficult histories and the current plight and promise of Kirkbride Hospitals for the Insane. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, seventy-five "Kirkbride Plan" Asylums were constructed across the United States, Canada and Australia according to the vision of Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, a pivotal figure in the development of Psychiatry in the United States and a forebear of Robert Kirkbride.

Although conceived under the Enlightenment belief in the therapeutic powers of beauty, and despite egalitarian ideals to provide a dignified place of care for the placeless, these asylums offer cautionary reminders of the frailties of human infrastructures and bureaucratization in the name of efficiency. There are complex and conflicting views toward the preservation or destruction of Kirkbride Hospitals. Embracing this complexity is critical to the imaginative reuse of these immense structures, which average hundreds of thousands of square feet and offer remarkable examples of architectural know-how, embodied energy and memory, personal and communal. They also offer remarkable opportunity. Recently, in the wake of the needless and highly contested demolition of Greystone Park State Asylum, in Parsippany, N.J., a national organization has emerged to advocate the preservation and adaptive reuse of the remaining 34 Kirkbride Hospitals. Robert Kirkbride is spokesperson for PreservationWorks, a new 501c3 committed to preserving Kirkbride Plan hospitals by sharing knowledge and resources to support local efforts and educate the public on the historic and global significance of these irreplaceable structures. Their revitalization is commonsense and achievable, strengthening economic growth and cultural identity in their respective communities.

Robert Kirkbride, Ph.D., is Associate Dean and Associate Professor of Architecture and Product Design at Parsons School of Design and director of studio 'patafisico, in New York City. He is also Spokesperson and a founding Trustee for PreservationWorks, a national 501c3 organization committed to the adaptive reuse of remaining Kirkbride Plan Hospitals. Dr. Kirkbride designed the Morbid Anatomy Museum with collaborator Anthony Cohn, and authored the award-winning multimedia online book, Architecture and Memory, which focuses on two Renaissance memory chambers. Kirkbride has been a visiting scholar at the Canadian Centre for Architecture, architect-in-residence at the Bogliasco Foundation in Genoa, Italy, and established the Giuseppe Zambonini Archive at Parsons/The New School. Robert received his Ph.D. in the History and Theory of Architecture from McGill University, and a Master of Architecture and Bachelor of Arts in Design of the Environment from the University of Pennsylvania.


Morbid Anatomy Museum (View)
424 A Third Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11215
United States




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