Architect and Critic Propose Rescue Plan for Chicago Landmark

Preservationists have been outspoken in arguing for the protection of Prentice Women’s Hospital. Rather than bemoan Northwestern University's intransigence in finding a way to reuse the hospital, two powerful figures have put forth a way to save it.
October 18, 2012, 12pm PDT | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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Petitions have been signed, columns have been written, awareness has been raised, but up until know, efforts to explain the importance of protecting Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital from demolition seem to have failed to sway the property owner, Northwestern University, or local officials in Chicago.

In a last ditch effort to convince the powers that be that protecting the building is possible, Michael Kimmelman, architecture critic for The New York Times, and Jeanne Gang, one of Chicago's most celebrated architects, have stepped forth with a bold proposal for saving the late-Modernist landmark by building a research tower on top of it. "Great buildings have often survived the wrecking ball by being added to, incorporated into larger structures or updated for a new era - in Rome and Istanbul, New York and Chicago," says Kimmelman. "Adding on top of the old Prentice is intended as a thought exercise in what might be called a third way that may not always get its due in preservation battles."

With that approach in mind, Gang developed a concept for adding 600,000 square feet of new space in a 31-story tower atop the hospital's cloverleaf, "adding a shapely new landmark to the skyline." 

"The university says it wants to be a good neighbor," observes Kimmelman. "Diversifying the neighborhood while incorporating Goldberg's building into some new structure would allow the university to save lives, develop a healthier urban plan and sustain a special work of local culture, which is also what great universities do."

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Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2012 in The New York Times
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