The Fate of Prentice

In the past month, the debate over the old Prentice Women’s Hospital seems to have fired up again. According to Deanna Isaacs of the Chicago Reader, Northwestern University sent out an email to members of the alumni association urging them to support the demolition of the Bertrand Goldberg building. (Isaacs also posted today that the hospital will get a hearing at the Landmarks Commission.)

After the email was sent out, I ended up try to think if I knew anyone who works in Northwestern’s Streeterville campus that actually likes Goldberg’s hospital. I drew a blank, but came up with a lot of people who think that it’s an “eyesore” that needs to be torn down. Some of these people, by the way, are Northwestern alumnists.

Goldberg’s hospital is not on my list of 10 Favorite Chicago Buildings and there are Goldberg buildings in Chicago that I actually like more than the old Prentice hospital, but I can also think of a lot of other shuttered Chicago hospitals that I find to be bigger eyesores and in need of demolishment, such as Edgewater Medical Center and Maryville, which I’m not a huge fan of because I lived a few blocks from it and it always creeped me out. I’m also a bit biased when it comes to Prentice because I’m studying science and understand the importance of modern lab spaces, although the gorgeous old building I have to do biology labs in works pretty well for the demands of a class of college students in 2012.

However, it seems to me that even though a lot of people in Chicago seem to have rallied around saving Prentice, I wouldn’t be shocked if the opinion of Northwestern alumni, faculty and staff is what could doom the building. These are people who seem to have not been convinced of the architectural and historical value of this building. Unless preservationists can convince this group to support saving the old hospital building, I think that it might be more likely that Prentice might be demolished.

On the other hand, if you are an employee of Northwestern’s Streeterville campus and you like the old Prentice Hospital, please let me know because I don’t want to misrepresenting this group of people.

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