Posted on:August 15th, 2012byNational Trust for Historic Preservation6 Comments
If you haven't ever seen Prentice Women's Hospital, the Modernist concrete structure that opened in Chicago in 1975, you can head to the Windy City -- or visit SavingPlaces.org, the new National Trust website about America's National Treasures.
There you'll discover that Prentice is much-loved and much-admired, but threatened with demolition by Northwestern University -- which is why the Trust is battling to save it alongside an impressive list of world-famous architects and Chicago-area preservation groups.
This week Paul Goldberger, the Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic (and National Trust board member since 2005) penned a blog post for Vanity Fair magazine where he serves as a contributing editor. His post brilliantly captures Prentice's significance, and underscores the case for saving the innovative cloverleaf hospital.
Posted on:July 27th, 2012byNational 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.”
See the guy in the blue shorts in the video? That's Ben Jenkin (aka Jenx). He's 21 years old and one of the founding athletes for the World Freerunning Parkour Federation (WFPF). For those unfamiliar, Parkour is a physical activity and mental discipline that focuses on efficient movement around obstacles (with strong dashes of self-expression and personal philosophy mixed in).
Now see the building he's running through? That's Miami Marine Stadium, a Modernist icon and one of our National Treasures. Closed after Hurricane Andrew swept through the region, the Stadium once played host to boat races, concerts, and even Easter services. Its crowning feature (literally) is its 326-foot-long, fold-plate roof, the longest span of cantilevered concrete in the world when it was poured in 1963.
So what do these two have in common (besides this beautiful "urban ballet," as one poetic National Trust colleague put it)? Well, we decided to put that question directly to Ben -- and learned that Parkour's focus on overcoming obstacles is a perfect match for people who want to save places.
How did you get involved with Parkour? What about the sport appeals to you?
It all started for me at the park after seeing some older guys flipping off the roof in the playground. From then on I was drawn in. I could already do some basic flips, which my dad had taught me. We started traveling around England meeting up with other people who also did Parkour to see what other locations England had to offer. The thing that appeals to me the most about Parkour is the ability it gives you to overcome fears, unlike other sports.
What are your favorite types of places to do Parkour? What have been some of your favorite locations?
My favorite types of places to do parkour are places with a lot of risk involved -- for example, on top of a building, over a bridge, or just anywhere that gives me no other option to succeed or I will get hurt. I like the element of fear, and I feel that being scared is the best way to progress.
What were your first thoughts when you showed up at Miami Marine Stadium to shoot the video?
When I showed up to the Marine Stadium, my first thoughts were, "WOW, what an incredible building with a lot of potential." I couldn’t wait to explore it and see what it had to offer.
What was it like to do Parkour there? What was your favorite part of the Stadium, and why?
One thing that was really good about training at the Marine Stadium was the fact it’s like a little town with multiple training spots inside. It’s pretty hard to pick a favorite part of the stadium when they are all so different and equally as good. However, I did like the roof; it’s always nice to have such an incredible view whilst training.
In one of the closing shots, the camera is at your back as you look at the Miami skyline from the Stadium's roof. What was going through your head in that moment?
When I’m doing Parkour nothing really goes through my mind. I’m so focused on what I am doing at the time that all my attention is on the move itself. When I am looking into the distance for the camera shot, I am just simply admiring the incredible view.
What do you hope this video will teach people about a) Parkour and b) special places like Miami Marine Stadium?
[I hope it will] not so much teach, but [rather] inspire the people watching to go out and do Parkour. I [also] hope this video will help people become more aware of this amazing place and ultimately save it from being destroyed. Why would anybody want to destroy such a beautiful building with so much character?
Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.
Starting in the late 16th century through to the 18th century, rich, young Europeans (and later Americans) traveled around Europe on something known as the "Grand Tour." Meant to be a capstone to formal education, the Tour involved a period of travel to some of Europe's great cities with the intention of introducing individuals to society, art, and culture.
For the last two weeks, as I made my way to two distinctive cities, I wondered what a modern Grand Tour in the United States would be like. What would be the unexpected places that would serve as a window into our culture, our architecture, and our people?
Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward neighborhood.
As I wrote about in an earlier blog post, I spent the last two weeks traveling to Wisconsin and Texas. I'll be honest -- if given a choice, I doubt that Milwaukee and Fort Worth would have been high on my list of intentional personal travel destinations -- but while I was there, each city succeeded in opening my heart in unexpected ways to what they had to offer.
I don't know what expectations I had for Milwaukee -- aside from its robust brewing past and present -- but I'll leave that alone for now and instead talk about its Historic Third Ward neighborhood, replete with converted warehouses, a fantastic Public Market, shops, and a river walk. Added to the National Register in 1984, the neighborhood is made up of enormous brick buildings that used to be centers of manufacturing. While some of the spaces are still vacant, the neighborhood is very much alive with residents, businesses, and creative public spaces.
The Mitchell Park Conservatory.
I also got a chance to visit the Mitchell Park Conservatory. Three mid-century domes replaced the old conservatory (which is probably an interesting preservation story in and of itself) in 1959. They loom high, and house three different ecosystems, each arrayed with a magical array of smells, sounds, and temperatures: tropical, desert, and a show dome for fancy flowers. I took delight in the way the arcing lines of the dome mimick the curve of the earth upon which these plants grow. ... Read More →
Priya Chhaya is Associate Manager for Online Content, Preservation Resources at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A public historian at heart, she sees history wherever she goes and believes that it is an important part of the American identity.
To celebrate the 126th birthday of famous German-American modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Google has remade their signature logo as a modern steel and glass structure reminiscent of the master's work rendering of his 1956 steel and glass S.R. Crown Hall on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology.
The Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)
Here at the National Trust, we're big Mies fans. If you didn't already know, one of our own historic sites, the Farnsworth House, was designed by Mies van der Rohe, and it's one of the most famous examples of modern domestic architecture.
And so we join Google in wishing a very happy 126th birthday to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Through preservation, commemoration, and the continued evolution of an iconic architectural style that he helped form, his legacy certainly lives on.
David Garber is the Coordinator of Blog Content & Outreach at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. He is a native of Washington, DC, and loves the intersection of preservation, innovation, and sustainability.
The PreservationNation blog features stories, news, and notes from the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as the wider preservation movement. Have a great story to share? Email us! And visit PreservationNation.org to learn more about people saving places.
While the writers of the PreservationNation blog are on staff at the National Trust for Historic Preservation or affiliated organizations, their posts are their own, and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.