I am deeply upset with my alma mater, Northwestern University, as they attempt to tear down a particularly special architectural classic from the 70s. This preservation battle has been building for months in Chicago on the fate of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, a concrete, cloverleaf structure from 1975 by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg. Famous architects and designers like Frank Gehry, Jeanne Gang, Tod Williams and Billie Tsien have signed petitions entreating Northwestern, who owns the building, not to tear it down, pleading for Mayor Rahm Emanuel to give it landmark status.
The university says it needs new biomedical research facilities and that Prentice is too small, old and quirky to adapt. A new building would bring to the city millions of investment dollars, create jobs and save lives – that’s Northwestern’s argument.
So here is a suggestion: Build a research tower on top of Prentice. The architect Jeanne Gang has a proposal for a new research tower on top of the hospital:
Why save Prentice? There are Chicagoans that hate it. Concrete buildings from the ’70s are becoming unpopular outside architectural circles, although it’s spreading, and rightly so. Great late-Modernist buildings, innovative and ruggedly beautiful, deserve respect and careful custody. Prentice is a good example.
Architect Goldberg, who died in 1997, used a pioneering form of computer modeling to engineer a tour de force: an open, seven-story maternity ward inside the cloverleaf shell, cantilevered 45 feet from the supporting core.
- Emanuel Doubles Down On Prentice Non-Committal; Jeanne Gang Draws A Possible Solution (chicagoist.com)
- To raze or raise Old Prentice? (danieljluebke.com)
- Prentice Demolition: Brendan Reilly, Downtown Alderman, Supports NU’s Plan To Tear Down Hospital (huffingtonpost.com)
- The war on Curves: From Phoenix to Chicago to London, curvy buildings are under attack (treehugger.com)
- Prentice will get its hearing at the Landmarks Commission (chicagoreader.com)
- More famous architects call for Prentice preservation; NU continues to press phony ultimatum (chicagoreader.com)
- Looking for a Jeanne Gang quote (ask.metafilter.com)