Preser­va­tion­ists rally for Pren­tice,

Modern Healthcare - - FRONT PAGE -

Ar­chi­tec­ture ex­perts like to say Ber­trand Gold­berg’s odd, am­bi­tious de­sign for the old Pren­tice Women’s Hospi­tal in Chicago re­sem­bles an clover­leaf for its grace­ful, rounded floors, and they tout its grav­ity-de­fy­ing lack of sup­port col­umns thanks to a can­tilevered de­sign. But North­west­ern Univer­sity at­tracted some at­ten­tion when it an­nounced that it would leave the 1975 build­ing to the wreck­ing ball to make way for a new med­i­cal re­search fa­cil­ity. A lo­cal neigh­bor­hood news­pa­per, the Sky­line, quoted univer­sity fa­cil­i­ties di­rec­tor Ron Nayler say­ing in a May 2011 pub­lic meet­ing that the build­ing’s low ceil­ings, old wiring and in­ad­e­quate “vi­bra­tion cri­te­ria” made it un­fit to keep around.

“When we looked at it in de­tail, we found ir­re­solv­able prob­lems,” Nayler was quoted as say­ing.

Since then, a wave of lo­cal and na­tional preser­va­tion groups have is­sued calls to save the build­ing, in­clud­ing the Na­tional Trust for His­toric Preser­va­tion, which last month en­listed ar­chi­tec­tural luminaries Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang and 60 oth­ers in ask­ing the city to save Chicago-na­tive Gold­berg’s build­ing.

“A build­ing this sig­nif­i­cant—this unique in the world—should be pre­served,” says the July 2012 let­ter from the trust to city of­fi­cials.

An Aug. 14 ar­ti­cle on Van­ity Fair’s web­site by Pulitzer Prize-win­ning ar­chi­tec­tural critic Paul Gold­berger com­pares the idea of raz­ing the hospi­tal to the 1972 de­struc­tion of the Chicago Stock Ex­change build­ing: “Chicago seems on the verge of let­ting an­other im­por­tant build­ing go, and it’s a de­ci­sion that, like the Stock Ex­change, will prob­a­bly be deeply re­gret­ted once the wreck­ing ball has done its deed.”

The univer­sity has re­sponded to calls for the old Pren­tice to be saved by ask­ing res­i­dents to sign pe­ti­tions op­pos­ing land­mark sta­tus for the build­ing by in­clud­ing an on­line com­ment form and the phone num­ber for the Com­mis­sion on Chicago Land­marks on its web­site.

The same day the Van­ity Fair ar­ti­cle ap­peared, the univer­sity pub­lished an an­nounce­ment on­line tout­ing the ben­e­fits of the project. North­west­ern says a new re­search cen­ter would at­tract $150 mil­lion in med­i­cal re­search spend­ing, cre­ate 2,000 full-time jobs and gen­er­ate $390 mil­lion in eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in the city.

“Re­use of old Pren­tice can­not meet the strate­gic needs of North­west- ern Univer­sity, and the build­ing needs to be de­mol­ished to make way for con­struc­tion of a state of the art med­i­cal re­search fa­cil­ity,” ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

At dead­line, preser­va­tion­ists were still wait­ing to hear if Pren­tice is on the Sept. 6 agenda of the Com­mis­sion on Chicago Land­marks, a panel that could pro­tect it from de­mo­li­tion.

Gold­berg’s 1975 Pren­tice hospi­tal, built in a mod­ernist style called bru­tal­ist, is the fo­cus of a preser­va­tion bat­tle in Chicago.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.