Will Prentice Women's Hospital's "life" be saved by Landmarks Commission Feb. 7


In yet another chapter of "Destroy Our Culture," the old Prentice Women's Hospital, designed by Chicago's famous architect Bertrand Goldberg will once again be on the Chicago Landmarks' agenda, 12:45 p.m. on Feb. 7, in the County Board Room, 5th floor, County Building, 118 N. Clark Street.

Preservationists say that this event is a clear acknowledgement by the City that last year's Commission meeting "was deficient." A two year battle raged between Northwestern University and preservationists about saving the 38-year-old building, described as one of "Chicago’s most distinctive architectural designs from the 1970s."

Landmarks Illinois presented a 16-page reuse plan for the building in April 2011, partially funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

As Gunny Harboe, a preservation architect who renovated the Carson Pirie Scott Building, said in a New York Times story, "When you get these buildings that are less than 50 years old, a lot of people just have this reaction that ‘I don’t like it ’cause it’s ugly,’ which really has no merit or bearing on the issue of whether or not it’s an important building.”

Award winning architect with a Wicker Park office, Jeanne Gang, likes the building’s looks. “Actually, I think it is pretty,” she said. “It’s engaging. It challenges your assumptions. When I come down the street, I always look for it, like a friend.”

At the Nov. 1, 2012 meeting of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks, the commission gave preliminary landmark status to the building and then rescinded the status in the same meeting. Cook County Circuit Judge Neil Cohen, who issued an emergency stay, subsequently threw out the lawsuit on Jan. 11. According to Ron Grossman in the Chicago Tribune, "Cohen rebuked the commission for the unusual step of voting for landmark status and taking it away in the same day. Cohen held that the commission's action was 'arbitrary' and 'nontransparent.'

"At the hearing, Cohen repeatedly pressed a city lawyer representing the commission, saying that if the commission had made a mistake, the proper solution might be to go back and do it the right way."

According to Preservation Chicago, the agenda for the February meeting "indicates that the Commission will again take a vote based on economic factors and not the landmark criteria, which would violate the Landmarks Ordinance. We object to this, but we must be on hand to make our case.

The Save Prentice Coalition has presented four detailed reuse plans that meet the research needs of Northwestern, create 1,560 more jobs than Northwestern's plan, and preserve a vital piece of our city's architectural heritage - Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice. See the reuse plans here.

The opportunity for the Commission to "do it the right way" will occur on Feb. 7 at 12:45 p.m. County Building, Board Rm, 5th floor, 181 N. Clark. Everyone who is interested in preservation is urged to attend the meeting.


Northwestern is going to

Northwestern is going to claim economic hardship in order to knock down Prentice. Seems a tough argument to make when their endowment is worth 8 BILLION dollars and they own a vacant city block directly across the street!

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