Leading architects fight to save Chicago's historic Prentice Women's Hospital

Leading architects fight to save Chicago's historic Prentice Women's Hospital
© C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections. Used under Creative Commons

Over 60 prominent architects, including Frank Gehry and Jeanne Gang, signed a letter asking Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to grant Bertrand Goldberg‘s Prentice Women’s Hospital landmark status and make it a permanent part of Chicago’s built environment. ”A building this significant”, the letter read, it “should be preserved and reused.” Goldberg’s architectural work has been iconic to Chicago’s city-scape. Building such as Marina City, River City, Wright College and Astor Tower have all made a tremendous impact on the personality of the city.

More on the state of the building after the break.

Prentice Women’s Hospital was built in 1975 in Chicago, Illinois.  It was designed to consolidate the different services of the hospital into one building.  In the design, a rectilinear base supports a quatrefoil monolithic concrete structure that is bi-symmetrical around a central core.  The cantilevered concrete shells rest on the steel and glass base.  Each quadrant in the floor plan is equidistant from the central support core that had typically contained a nurse’s station and support staff.  The project was designed around a time when Goldberg was receiving many institutional commissions, such as medical facilities.

Northwestern University has plans to tear down the vacant building to make way for a new medical research tower that is not yet funded.  The names in the letter to the Mayor show the dedication and support of leading design figures such as Gehry and Gang.   Signers of the letter include supporters from all over the country as well as from Asia, Australia, and Europe.

The city landmarks commission meets on August 2nd to make the final decision on the fate of the building. An agenda has not yet been posted.

It is unfortunate that the building has remained vacant.  The city landmark commission’s report says: “It is a significant and highly intact illustration of the aesthetic creativity, technological experimentation, and cultural optimism that made Chicago a world center for late modernist architecture in the 1960s and 1970s.  Prentice is an exceptionally valuable resources for the scholarly understanding and public appreciation of this influential period in the City’s history.”

Other prominent American architects that signed the letter include Malcom Holzman and Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. Some of the Chicago architects include Joe Antunovich, David Brininstool, Dirk Denison, John Eifler, Philip Enquist, Doug Farr, Geoff Goldberg (Bertrand Goldberg’s son), Phil Hamp, Donald Hackl, Gunny Harboe, Thomas Kerwin, Jackie Koo, Leonard Koroski, Ronald Krueck, Brian Lee, Dirk Lohan, Brad Lynch, Jeffery McCarthy, John Ronan, Ken Schroeder, Mark Sexton, Richard Tomlinson, Joe Valerio, John Vinci, Dan Wheeler, Ross Wimer and David Woodhouse. Educators from Chicago’s Universities also signed their support.

Reference: CityScapes, Chicago Tribune Images C. William Brubaker via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections; Licensed under Creative Commons.

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Cite: Irina Vinnitskaya. "Leading architects fight to save Chicago's historic Prentice Women's Hospital" 30 Jul 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/258086/leading-architects-fight-to-save-chicagos-historic-prentice-womens-hospital> ISSN 0719-8884

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