This concrete, clover leaf-shaped structure, which was built in 1975, will likely suffer a fate common to many vacant and disused buildings. After approximately four years of vacancy, this Bertrand Goldberg-designed building will likely be demolished when ownership will revert to Northwestern University this year. Although Goldberg’s organic architectural designs – such as this one – were widely influential, none of his major Chicago works are protected by local landmark designation. Prentice Women’s Hospital was considered groundbreaking for its cutting-edge architecture, advanced engineering, and its progressive design approach to organizing medical departments and services. It received international press coverage and an award from Engineering News Record for its innovative tower and open floor-plate layout that eliminated the need for structural support columns. “You will not find the structural solution to Prentice, which is an exterior shell cantilevered off a core, anywhere else in the world” notes Geoffrey Goldberg, an architect and Bertrand Goldberg’s son. “Prentice was the only one in which this was achieved.”
Preservation organizations immediately began voicing concern about the future of Goldberg’s building when Northwestern announced its plans to build a new Prentice Woman’s Hospital. Prentice was on Landmarks Illinois’ 2005-06 Chicagoland Watch List and this is its third listing on the statewide endangered list. Preservation Chicago has also included it on its “Chicago 7” list. Both organizations have requested that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks consider the building for Chicago Landmark designation. In 2010, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency determined the building as eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Landmarks Illinois has prepared a reuse study for the building to demonstrate its viability for potential university uses, including a research / laboratory facility. In partnership with Preservation Chicago, DoCoMoMo, and the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a coalition has been formed to advocate for the preservation of this irreplaceable Modern building.
Goldberg also left his mark in Chicago with Marina City, a set of towers completed in 1964; it was the tallest residential project in the world when it was built and it still remains one of the densest inhabited developments. Follow the link for more on this classic building.
To voice your concerns in saving the Prentice Women’s Hospital, write a letter to encourage local landmark designation and to work with Northwestern University to reuse the building.
Mr. Rafael Leon, Chairman
Commission on Chicago Landmarks
c/o Chicago Department of Housing and Economic Development
33 N. LaSalle St., Suite 1600
Chicago, IL 60602
Mayor Rahm Emanuel
Office of the Mayor
City of Chicago
121 N. LaSalle St.
Chicago, IL 60602
Alderman Brendan Reilly
Office of the 42nd Ward
325 W. Huron, Suite 510
Chicago IL, 60654