Amidst the longstanding, heated battled to save Bertrand Goldberg’s iconic Prentice Woman’s Hospital, the results of the 2012 Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice have been announced! Presented by the Chicago Architecture Foundation, in collaboration with Chicago Architectural Club and the Chicago Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the international competition intended to act as a platform for public debate about the future of the controversial Chicago landmark.
More information and the winning proposals after the break…
As you may know, the unique modernist structure is at risk of being demolished in order to make way for a new biomedical research facility for Northwestern University. Since the competition’s inauguration, the fight to save Prentice has intensified.
Although Jeanne Gang and Michael Kimmelman presented a compromise that had the potential to satisfy both opposing sides – just as all the 71 Future Prentice entires intend to do – the outcome hasn’t been looking optimistic. However, in a recent turn of events, a Cook County Judge granted Prentice temporary landmark status after responding to a lawsuit filed by preservations that accused the city and the Chicago Commission on Public Landmarks of acting arbitrarily and exceeding their authority. Regardless, Northwestern’s stance hasn’t budged.
According to Architectural Record, Northwestern spokesman Alan K. Cubbage wrote in an e-mail: “As Northwestern has stated publicly for the past decade and recently reiterated, the University’s plans call for demolishing the existing structure on that site and building a new biomedical research facility. Therefore, it would not be productive for the University to review proposals that called for keeping the former Prentice building. However, we wish the Chicago Architectural Club well in its endeavor.”
Understandably, the competition entrants are frustrated. As first-place winner Villacorta stated, “It’s like they’re closing their eyes to free ideas.”
First Prize: ”The Buildings are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says.”
Team: Cyril Marsollier and Wallo Villacorta
Through an appreciation of the validity in Northwestern University’s (NU) need for a new functional facility and the public’s interest in preservation, conflicting interests can be reconciled with thoughtful negotiation. As is, Prentice Women’s Hospital cannot accommodate NU’s intended use of it as a lab research facility.
Maintaining the existing structure celebrates the possibilities of free space. Introducing a third entity achieves the functionality of the desired research facility. The new volume embraces half of the existing structure while the intersecting facade preserves the complete iconic image of Prentice Women’s Hospital. The black volume is transformed to include an auditorium and thus anchors the connection between all other entities through mutual use.
Because of its generous floor plan, versatility, and being embedded in a culturally rich environment, Prentice effortlessly becomes a museum. The building engages in an automatic dialogue about the value of preservation and its marriage to un-manifested concepts.
“[The buildings] are sleeping, you should go and wake them up, she says.” – Robert Montgomery
Second Prize: ”Superimpositions: Prentice as Additive Icon”
Team: Noel Turgeon and Natalya Egon
Superimpositions proposes to add to Prentice. Too many buildings have been demolished unnecessarily in Chicago and in many other sites of urban renewal. This project ensures both the preservation of the original building and its adaptation through growth over time. The structural core of Prentice is exploited, extending to support vertical growth. The result is a series of possible additions, which do not discriminate based on architectural style, form, scale, program, or material. This indeterminate approach serves as a vertical timeline of trends in architecture. It also relies heavily on the modernist approach Goldberg had towards plinth and tower, and does so in order to extend square footage and program indefinitely. The icon remains while continuing to grow, quite literally, and is saved not because of nostalgia but for a valuable use and iconic, meaningful presence in the city of Chicago.
By studying and identifying key buildings in architectural history that have been demolished or added to, our timeline then leads to an exploration of what would happen if some of these significant buildings were added to instead of demolished. We superimposed the demolished buildings with what was built or proposed on the same site. These Demolished Additions led to the generation of a library of generic iconic forms to be combined in an theoretical additions to the existing Goldberg building. This additive method reinforces Goldberg’s unique composition, while allowing the architect of each future addition to compose their own distinct icons.
Third Prize: Bridging Prentice
Team: James Wild, Lauren Haras, Katherine Lee, Andres Lemus, Tom Marquardt, Pedro Melis, Saman Moayer, Kerry Rutz, Katelyn Smith, Ashley Wendela
Our design strategy looks to preserve Prentice as a center for community education with learning labs and science focused galleries, while creating a state-of-the-art laboratory research center connected by an open green roof ‘park’, accessible to the surrounding community, in the center of the NW campus.
Prentice and the adjoining site are ideal for promoting the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Coalition (STEM), which promotes the pursuit of careers in the sciences and technology.
The new, state of the art 500,000 sf lab building houses research labs and offices for NW, and supports the community with a needed public green space and knowledge resource center.
A subtractive design approach was taken with the existing Prentice structure. Removal of floorplates opens the volumes and creates a large central atrium to connect programs, allow natural light, and create an open terrace garden. These moves celebrate the sculptural qualities of the building and create a sequence of slow ascent.
The top level of the existing plinth is transformed into an elevated public street and park that provides the community with a much needed green space and respite to NW patients and staff, while creating an intimate relationship between Prentice and the community.
Nestled between the lake and Michigan Avenue, and adjacent to public thoroughfares, the site is often overlooked. This new program and design strategy makes Prentice and the new plaza a destination for the world and provides NW a visible signal of health, wellness and community.
Honorable Mention: Project X
Team: Anja Buttolo, Tilmann Lohse , Priska Lohse , Michael Pancost
You can view all 71 proposals at the Chicago Architecture Foundation exhibition Reconsidering an Icon: Creative Conversations About Prentice Women’s Hospital.