Chicago Landmarks Commission clears demolition of the old Prentice Women's Hospital

Commission rescinds preliminary landmark status

February 7, 2013

By Rebecca Kruth and Lynette Kalsnes

(flickr, TheeErin)

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks rescinded preliminary landmark status for the old Prentice Women's Hospital Thursday afternoon.

The clover-shaped hospital was designed by noted Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg, who also was the mastermind behind Marina City Towers. 

Last November, the commission gave Prentice a preliminary landmark designation, only to revoke it just a few hours later in the same hearing.

That resulted in a lawsuit by preservationists, who said the city didn't follow its own landmark procedures. A Cook County judge dismissed the lawsuit, but called the commission's actions both "arbitrary" and "not transparent."

Following a few hours of public comment Thursday, the commission voted unanimously to rescind that status.

That vote frees Northwestern University to tear down the building for a planned research center. 

Preservationists, joined by a group of prominent architects locally and internationally, argued the building was iconic, and could be reused. Northwestern argued the space wasn't adequate, and they needed to tear down the building to build something that would connect with an existing research facility.

Two commissioners said they voted reluctantly in favor of rescinding the status, and said they hope Northwestern keeps its vow to build a new research facility there, rather than tearing it down and banking the vacant land.

In a statement, Northwestern said it was pleased with the decision, and would proceed with plans to build its research facility. It said it would hold an architectural competition starting "in a manner of months."