The Medical Laboratories building, adjacent to the General Hospital, was designed to house the medical library and State Board of Health Laboratories. Built contemporaneously with the General Hospital, the Medical Laboratories were funded along the same structure—half the monies coming from the Rockefeller Foundation and Rockefeller General Board of Education and half from the state. Both projects benefited from the advocacy of Abraham Flexner, whose damning 1910 report to the Carnegie Foundation had prompted a decade of internal reform at the hospital and medical college. Flexner and William R. Boyd, chairman of the Finance Committee of the Iowa State Board of Education, saw the University’s self-scrutiny as an ideal foundation for experiments in best practices. Their support of the College of Medicine as a potential laboratory for those efforts was instrumental in the $2,250,000 grant and further development of the transformation already under way.
Modeled on the gatehouse at Henry VIII’s Hampton Court, the Medical Laboratories east façade is a Tudor Revival composition of limestone and brick. The pointed-arch portal, two-story central bay window, and flanking octagonal towers are all character- istic of this style. A medical coat of arms tops the central bay and is framed by scaly serpents—clear allusion to the serpent of Aesculapius, the Greek god of medicine. This same bay also has a panel inscribed “1925,” the date recorded on the original blueprints. The slender tow- ers are ornamented at the top with inset tracery panels and copper domes, and the balustraded parapet is topped with finials. The 1842 cornerstone of the Mechanics’ Academy (razed in 1897), first hospital on the University of Iowa campus, is incorporated into the east façade of Medical Laboratories. The crenellated polygonal stair towers along the north and south flanks of Medical Laboratories have an even greater affinity to the gatehouse at St. John’s College, Cambridge. Appropriately, Oxbridge Collegiate Gothic is the preferred style here.
The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.