Libraries virtual exhibit explores how pandemics affect architecture

March 23, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries’ Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library has launched a virtual display, Pandemic Spaces (1918 Edition), to explore how architecture related to the devastating influenza epidemic of 1918. The exhibit was introduced early this month for public viewing, notably for individuals interested in the intersection between architecture and history. 

As current global quarantines have shown, a pandemic requires expanded hospital space and restrictions on gathering spaces, and prompts reconsiderations of future building needs. The exhibit includes buildings from hospitals to housing, showing how approaches to space during the 1918 flu made use of existing structures and reinforced changes already afoot in architecture. The website explores challenges unique to the early 20th century, including World War I, as well as themes reoccurring today, such as the value of fresh air.

Selections from local newspapers and examples of Pennsylvania buildings connect the happenings of Centre County and the surrounding area to global events.

"The exhibit helps us to see how international approaches to structures and ventilation intertwine with local circumstances," said Laurin Goad Davis, information specialist, Architecture and Landscape Architecture Library, Penn State University Libraries.

Further suggestions for reading accompany each section. Visit "Pandemic Spaces (1918 Edition)" at this link.

For more information about the virtual exhibit, contact Laurin Goad Davis at 814-865-3614 or

Last Updated March 23, 2021