The first buildings erected on campus during the mid 1800s were inspired by a revival of Greek and Roman architecture, emphasizing lineage and order. Among these structures include the Arts Building, designed by John Ostell as the face of McGill. The intricate stonework on the exterior, accentuated by its modest roof, provides the Arts Building with a dominant presence on campus. Other details such as the Tuscan Columns supporting the grand portico further the building’s portrayal of Greek and Roman décor.
While revered today for its aesthetically pleasing symmetry and revival of classic architecture, the Arts Building suffered serious architectural flaws at the time of its opening. According to McGill’s historical archives, “The [Arts Buildings’] roof began to leak, the rooms were cold and dimly lit, there were numerous rats in the walls, and several windows were broken.”