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Peddle, Juliet Medicenter Building, 1956


Born in Terre Haute, in Vigo County, Indiana, Juliet Peddle was the first woman licensed to practice architecture in the state. She graduated from the King Classical School, a private school in Terre Haute, in 1918, and became the second woman to graduate from the University of Michigan’s School of Architecture, in 1922. She also studied art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and in Berkshire, Maine, and traveled abroad in 1926 to study European architecture. Her first job was with the firm of Perkins, Fellows, & Hamilton in Chicago. Peddle earned her architect’s license in Illinois in 1926 and in Indiana in 1939. Among the firms she worked for was Miller Vrydagh & Miller (later Miller Miller & Associates) in Terre Haute. After she earned her Indiana license, she opened her own architecture firm and practiced until 1974. In 1999, the Indiana Chapter of the American Institute of Architects established the Juliet Peddle Award, given annually to a woman architect in Indiana.

  • Medicenter Building, 1956
  • Terre Haute
  • Keywords: architecture, health facilities, limestone
  • Subjects: physicians, doctors, windows

Harriet M. Caplow et al., in their book Juliet Peddle of Terre Haute, include this description of Peddle’s work on the Medicenter Building:

“In the mid-1950s, six downtown doctors . . . hired Juliet to design a joint facility that would meet their needs. This was probably the most complex new structure which she had yet planned, and she fully met the challenge, demonstrating her ability to design a modern clinic in harmony with modern surroundings. Within the one-story building, she provided a large reception room that led to a suite for each doctor. She investigated the needs of each physician and custom tailored his space to those requirements. Rooms for X-ray, surgery, and laboratory functions were commonly shared. On the exterior over the reception area, a dramatic, sloping roof with clerestory windows concealed the air conditioning ducts and exhaust stacks. Planters for evergreens were built into the wall to embellish the limestone façade. The $170,000 ‘Medicenter’ won acceptance in the neighborhood and eventually some national attention after its completion in 1957. In 1959, an article in the Practical Builder extolled it as an example for builders in areas where the suburban movement was creating demand for ‘the small, consolidated medical center,’ and for its ‘modern reception room’ that best expressed the efficient organization of the facility.”

Some Points To Consider

  • Read the description of the Medicenter Building to the students again. Ask them if they think the building functioned well as a clinic. Why or why not? (Art 4.1.2)
  • Help students compare the style and function of the contemporary clerestory windows with traditional windows. Ask: What function would clerestory windows serve in a clinic? (Art 4.2.3)