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333 East Superior Street
The former Prentice Women's Hospital
Bertrand Goldberg -Bertrand Goldberg and Associates Architect
Chicago, IL 60654
NPR: All Things Considered: Places in Peril
New City: Hospital Emergency: The Save Prentice movement goes national National Trust Video on Save Prentice Rally The Suntimes: David Roeder writes on Prentice. Prentice Rally on YOUTUBE
Other recent Updates: In April of 2011, Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) brokered a 60-day delay in Northwestern University's plan to immediately apply for a demolition permit for Prentice, even though the building is not scheduled to be vacated until September. On April 7, 2011 Landmarks Illinois joined Preservation Chicago by also listing Prentice as one of their Most Endangered buildings of 2011. On April 22, Landmarks Illinois released its long-awaited reuse plan.
Preservation Chicago first identified the threat to the former Prentice Women’s Hospital back in November of 2003 as its replacement facility was nearing completion. Named as one of the 7 Most Threatened Buildings of 2004 at the organization’s annual press conference, more than six years later the threat of demolition grows ever nearer.
Prentice Hospital is currently owned by Northwestern Memorial Hospital. However, in early 2011, the hospital is obligated to transfer ownership to Northwestern University, which plans to redevelop the entire parcel of land on which it sits for new research facilities, almost guaranteeing its demolition.
History, unfortunately, sets a foreboding precedent as Northwestern’s Medical District has witnessed astounding levels of demolition in recent years: Prentice’s next door neighbors, the Wesley and Pasavant Pavilions, have both been demolished as has the nearby Veteran’s Administration Lakeside hospital.
Bertrand Goldberg is one of Chicago’s most iconic, and iconoclastic, modern architects. Best known for his world-famous Marina City complex, many of Goldberg’s surviving works remain at best misunderstood, and at worst threatened with irreparable alterations or outright demolition, Prentice being just one.
Goldberg trained at Harvard, later spending time at the German Bauhaus under the direct tutelage of master architect – and later day Chicagoan – Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Returning to Chicago, Goldberg set out to apply Miesian techniques and principles to his own designs. The results are wholly unique buildings that stand alone in their originality.
Insisting that the Miesian box was not the ideal solution to all architectural problems, and particularly those centered around human community, Goldberg developed a series of complex curvilinear geometries for his buildings.Chicago’s Prentice Hospital is perhaps the ultimate manifestation of these design objectives. Configured as two distinct volumes for two separate, but interdependent uses, the hospital contains a large, flexible, and adaptable Miesian space at its base, and a highly specialized tower above, intended for maternity functions. In a remarkable step forward from previous designs, Goldberg here balances the entire curvilinear tower above the base volume, its floors cantilevering daringly above. This drama allows the two forms to coexist harmoniously, without the oddly spaced columns of the bed tower intruding upon the regular space below.
Today, this important architectural icon is threatened. To that end, Preservation Chicago has embarked on an advocacy campaign in conjunction with Landmarks Illinois, The Midwest Office of the National Trust and The Chicago Chapter of DOCOMOMO. To learn more about Goldberg’s modern masterpiece and the efforts to preserve it, link to:
- Landmarks Illinois PrenticeReuse Plan
- Blair Kamin on Reuse Plan
- Lynn Becker on Reuse Plan
- 2004 Chicago 7
- Read Blair Kamin Cityscapes 3.26.11
- 10 Reasons to Save Prentice by Edward Lifson
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