Two contrary positions have been presented regarding the fate of the former Prentice Women’s Hospital: either preserve or demolish.
Designed by Chicago Architect Bertrand Goldberg, Prentice Women’s Hospital was completed in 1975. Advocates for saving Prentice maintain that this building is architecturally and culturally significant and that it should be granted Landmark Status protection despite its relatively young age.
Northwestern University has stated that the demolition of Prentice is the only way to effectively utilize the site for a new medical research facility. The Landmarks Illinois study A New Use For A Modern Landmark indicates that the building is well-suited for residential and office reuse, however reuse as a research laboratory presents limitations. Northwestern contends that keeping Prentice will prevent them from constructing a building that meets their specifications for a “world-class research facility.”
The ‘Preserve or Demolish’ debate ignores the possibility of a third option...
Goldberg’s Prentice can be saved. Northwestern’s specifications can be met. This can be achieved through a strategy of displacement and by providing an adaptable framework that allows Northwestern to meet their current needs (phase I) and future needs (phase II).
Displacement: Air rights over Superior Street are granted to Northwestern by the City of Chicago. An alternative to demolition, this exchange effectively allows Northwestern to reclaim the portion of the site lost to Prentice. The original Prentice may be used by Northwestern or a third-party.
Adaptable Framework: A building infrastructure is provided that allows Northwestern to meet their current and future needs. The new building cantilevers from a central core which penetrates the existing plinth but is structurally independent. Each floor provides the 25,000 gross square footage required by Northwestern to achieve an “intellectual critical mass.” Floor-by-floor horizontal connections are made to the adjacent Lurie Research Building, while additional multi-story atria provide shortcuts between floors and dramatically increase the “line of sight” connections desirable in a collaborative research facility.
Scale: 1000000 SQ FT
Location: Chicago, IL