New York Times architecture critic Michael Kimmelman waded into the controversy embroiling Chicago’s old Prentice Women’s Hospital Wednesday and wound up soliciting a unique solution from Jeanne Gang that has already garnered praise from the coalition of preservationists fighting to save the building from demolition. Noting the “familiar” tone of the dispute between landowner Northwestern University, who wants to demolish Prentice to make way for up to 500,000 square feet of medical research facilities, and preservationists seeking landmark status for the distinctive 1970s Bertrand Goldberg structure, Kimmelman called for a third approach: incorporate old Prentice into a new design on the site. As the pendulum begins to lean towards demolition, with 42nd ward Alderman Brendan Reilly saying he supports Northwestern’s decision, the critic asked Gang what she thought. Gang, who previously signed a letter of support for the movement to save Prentice, whipped up some concept drawings for a curved 31-story skyscraper that would sit atop Goldberg’s iconic quatrefoil. The architect said her design was meant to “[open] up a dialogue,” not serve as an actual proposal from her studio. In delivering on Northwestern’s specs for a new building while elegantly playing off Prentice’s structural strengths, however, she has reinvigorated the preservationists’ call for alternatives to erasing Prentice outright. Kimmelman’s comments and Gang’s concept come the same day Mayor Rahm Emanuel, whose power to appoint members of the commission on Chicago landmarks gives him a great deal of say in such matters, is quoted in the Sun-Times wistfully conceding, “There may not be a common ground or a third way.” If he is indeed committed to compromise, the mayor now has a middle ground to consider.
Posts tagged with "Bertrand Goldberg":
The ongoing saga of Bertrand Goldberg’s Old Prentice Women’s Hospital continues, with members of the Save Prentice coalition delivering a petition with more than 3,500 signatures Monday to the offices of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Alderman Brendan Reilly, and the Landmarks Commission. They include Pritzker-winning architects as well as preservationists and ordinary citizens from Chicago and beyond. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks said earlier this month it would take up the issue before the end of their fall session, possibly as early as October 4. Emanuel, Reilly, and the Commission could grant landmark status to the iconic 1975 structure but have so far remained neutral on the issue.
Even after several Pritzker-winning architects signed onto the preservation campaign last week, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks again omitted from its meeting agenda the embattled Old Prentice Women’s Hospital. Then, noting the recent flurry of media coverage, commission Chariman Rafael Leon announced at the top of Thursday's meeting that the commission would address the issue before the end of its fall season. The decision follows what the Chicago Tribune called “a public relations blitz” by the building’s owner, Northwestern University, who is seeking demolition. In addition to full page ads in the Tribune, Northwestern has touted the results of a survey it conducted that showed evidence for public support of the building’s demolition. The Save Prentice coalition questioned the validity of those results, however, calling on Northwestern to release the full text of its survey. “We don’t know, for example, whether respondents were told of Northwestern’s extensive real estate holdings, including a massive vacant lot across the street from historic Prentice that is owned by Northwestern’s teaching hospital,” coalition representatives wrote in a press release Monday.
Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital has become the cause célèbre for architectural preservationists from across Chicago and beyond, now garnering five more Pritzker-toting allies amid mounting pressure for demolition. Robert Venturi, Tadao Ando, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, and Eduardo Souto de Moura added their names to a letter sent to Mayor Rahm Emanuel last month from more than 60 architects, including Frank Gehry. Dan Coffey and Jack Hartray of Chicago, George Miller of New York City, Denise Scott Brown of Philadelphia, and Bjarke Ingels of Copenhagen also joined the chorus of designers calling on Chicago city officials to grant the iconic cloverleaf structure landmark status. The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently completed a landmark recommendation report, but Chicago’s Commission on Landmarks, the City Council, and the mayor will ultimately determine whether its owner can proceed with its plans to demolish. AIA Chicago and Landmarks Illinois have long supported landmark designation for the building, which Northwestern University wants to demolish so it can construct a medical research tower. Preservationists counter Northwestern owns vacant land nearby that should be considered for new construction. Reuse options for Prentice, vacant since 2007, abound—a reuse study by Landmarks Illinois found rehabilitation as a lab, office or residential tower would take less time and cost less than new construction on the site. Goldberg designed the hospital to actualize his vision for community-building through architecture. The four bays in the building’s unique quatrefoil floorplan were meant to preserve sightlines and encourage interaction between and among patients and staff. Its concrete shell, designed uncharacteristically for the time with the aid of computers, is a unique feat of engineering permitting column-free floors. It was hailed as a structural engineering milestone upon its completion in 1975. “The legacy of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital is unmistakable,” the letter reads. “Chicago’s global reputation as a nurturer of bold and innovative architecture will wither if the city cannot preserve its most important achievements.” There is a Commission on Chicago Landmarks meeting this Thursday, and Prentice supporters are trying to put the issue on the agenda, but the Commission has not responded. They have not weighed in on the issue in more than a year, even ruling a coalition representative who tried to broach the topic out of order during the last meeting. UPDATE: The Commission's agenda does not include Prentice.
Yesterday that National Trust for Historic Preservation announced Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital had made its annual 11 Most Endangered List, bringing national attention to the fight to save the quatrefoil-plan, concrete building. Also yesterday, the local group Save Prentice staged a rally outside the building featuring speakers including Zurich Esposito of the Chicago AIA and Jim Peters from Landmarks Illinois. Northwestern University wants to demolish to the building to make way for an as yet unfunded and unspecified medical facility. After a temporary hold was placed on the building, preventing the University from seeking a demolition permit, Prentice was placed on the docket for a hearing for local landmark protection and then quickly tabled. As I wrote in my recent editorial when the building was briefly on the landmarks docket:
While the building is far from saved, the Commission’s move brings to an end the curious silence surrounding the status of the building. Though the non-profit Landmarks Illinois has been pleading for a hearing since 2003, until now, all the major players who could save the building have remained mum. Alderman Reilly, who negotiated the building’s 60-day grace period, has not said if he believes the building should be landmarked. Newly minted Mayor Emanuel, who campaigned on a platform of greater public transparency, has been similarly quiet on the subject. Presumably Alderman Reilly or someone in the Emanuel administration nudged the Commission to take action. While we are grateful to this unknown string-puller, we are left wondering why so much still happens behind closed doors.Thanks to the efforts of local architects, designers, preservationists and citizens, and now the National Trust, a lot of eyes are following the fate of the building. Northwestern may change course just to avoid the bad P.R. If they are negotiating a land swap with the city--as many have speculated--let's hope the city treats Prentice better than it treated the Gropius buildings at the old Michael Reese Hospital.
Tightening the Greenbelt. Per Square Mile explores why greenbelts fail to hold back city sprawl. Using London and San Francisco as examples, Tim De Chant writes that perimeter actually parks attract suburbs to form outside their borders. Role of a lifetime. The AIA has awarded Portland U's Sergio Palleroni the Latrobe Prize for his research on the role of architects in future public interest projects. A Portland Architecture interview plays well with De Chant's article above, as Palleroni casts a critical eye on Portland's sprawl. Going, Going. The list of the top seven endangered buildings in Chicago was today released by Preservation Chicago. Curbed Chicago pounced on list an hour after it went online. At the very top is a relative youngin': the 1975 Prentice Tower (by Mies student Bertrand Goldberg), whose uncertain fate AN's Julie Iovine covered in a recent issue. Bids 4 Bush... Bids for yet another NYC waterfront property are begin accepted by the New York Economic Development Corporation Crain's reports, and this one comes with a 99-year ground lease. The 130,000 square-foot property sits on Gowanus Bay at Bush Terminal in Sunset Park Brooklyn.
Another sign of the growing importance of the Art Institute of Chicago's Architecture and Design Department, the museum announced the appointment Alison Fisher as assistant curator. Fisher, who will focus on the department's historical collection, joins department chair Joe Rosa, and curator Zoe Ryan, who has been building the department's contemporary design collection. The department, which now boasts the country's largest architecture and design galleries, is working on a major exhibition on Bertrand Goldberg, among other shows. Fisher previously served as a curatorial fellow at the Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University and she is completing a doctorate in art history at Northwestern.