Architects to Chicago: "Save Prentice Hospital!"

Posted on: July 27th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

Historic Prentice Women's Hospital in Chicago received enthusiastic support from 60 remarkable allies today -- a wide swath of prominent architects from around the world, including Pritzker Prize winner Frank Gehry and MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang.

In an open letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the architects cited the historic significance of Goldberg’s Prentice as well as Chicago’s long-term leadership in architectural innovation, and called for creative reuse of the building. Of note from their letter:

“The National Trust for Historic Preservation recently completed a landmark recommendation report documenting the significance of architect Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital. The report confirms what we already believed: that the historic Prentice exceeds the criteria for Chicago landmark designation, that it is truly singular in construction and layout, and that it changed the course of modern hospital design.

As members of the architecture community, we believe Goldberg’s Prentice should be given a permanent place in Chicago’s cityscape. A building this significant – this unique in the world – should be preserved and reused.”

Prentice Women's Hospital -- named a National Treasure earlier this year (remember our Valentine’s Day Show Prentice Some Love contest?) -- has been a Modernist icon in the Chicago cityscape since 1975. Here are some fast facts:

  • Prentice Women’s Hospital was originally built to house Northwestern Memorial Hospital’s obstetrical and gynecological facilities.
  • It was a culminating work for native architect Bertrand Goldberg, renowned for his “corncob” towers of Marina City.
  • His unique cloverleaf design at Prentice helped redefine patient- and family-centered care. It exemplified the belief that patients should be grouped in communities around a nursing center that improved proximity and sightlines between nurses and patients.
  • Prentice also propelled advances in the fields of architecture and engineering with its cantilevered concrete shell, column-free floors, and groundbreaking use of computer-aided design.

As National Trust president Stephanie Meeks noted in the press release:

“This outpouring of support for Prentice Hospital is truly inspirational. The list of architects signing this letter represents many leaders in the field of architecture, and testifies to the depth of national and international respect for the work of Bertrand Goldberg.”

Join these architects in supporting Prentice -- sign the pledge and donate to the campaign!

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