Prentice Women’s Hospital, designed by Bertrand Goldberg. Image by Flickr user ChicagoGeek.
CHICAGO: Critics have argued that the Commission on Chicago Landmarks doesn’t include enough design professionals to settle a dispute over the Bertrand Goldberg–designed Prentice Women’s Hospital. But architects and others in Chicago and beyond are eager for officials to weigh in.
The New York Times reports that more than 60 architects, including Frank Gehry, FAIA, and Jeanne Gang, FAIA, signed a letter to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel appealing for the building to be preserved.
This debate is one that isn’t centered about disagreements about the cost of preserving a building. That’s because Northwestern University has no interest in keeping it. The university plans to demolish it and replace it with a state-of-the-art medical-research building, which has caused preservationists to scramble to find an argument and an audience for plans to preserve, restore, or reuse the building. Per the article: “Northwestern is not interested.”
ARCHITECT’s own Aaron Betsky describes the hospital as “a building only an architect could love”—which is bad news for preservationists, should the architect-free Commission on Chicago Landmarks decide its fate. (Chicago’s housing and economic development department has noted that the Historic Preservation Division includes architects and vets the issues before they are presented to the larger commission.)