Alderman Brendan Riley (42nd) recently met with and persuaded Northwestern University officials to delay their demolition permit application plans for 60 days. Ald. Riley cited a soon to be released study by Landmarks Illinois which looks at possible re-uses for Prentice. The study will be given the proper consideration and review and will even be posted on the Alderman’s website.
Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital was designed in 1972 and completed in 1974. The hospital featured a rectilinear building of column and beam construction that served as the base for a quatrefoil bed tower of monolithic concrete shell construction. Unlike previous designs in which the exterior shell of the tower building was supported by columns, the shell at Prentice was completely sprung from the core, thus eliminating any supporting columns in the lower building and providing a column free space in the tower, allowing more planning flexibility. Because the supporting columns for the tower were clustered in a central core, it also made space planning for the base building much more efficient.
Goldberg’s work can be seen all around Chicago in such iconic buildings as Marina City Towers, and River City . . .
For now the Alderman is not making a stand to save Prentice, if he feels the preservationists have not made a strong enough case he could simply walk away from the whole situation. The delay is not as political as it seems as the base is still occupied at least until September when the Stone Institute of Psychiatry is scheduled to move out.
While not a reprieve, the delay will allow for real public input and debate on the subject and puts Northwestern University officials on notice that this is an important issue to the people of the 42d ward and all of Chicago.
Preservation Chicago has listed Prentice Women’s Hospital, by Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, as one of the 7 most endangered structures of 2011.