Prentice Hospital will get a redo from Landmarks Commission

Commission will revisit preliminary landmark status for the building next week

January 28, 2013

By Rebecca Kruth

(Flickr/TheeErin)
The former Prentice Women's Hospital in Streeterville.

The Commission on Chicago Landmarks will soon revisit its decision to reject preliminary landmark status for the old Prentice Women’s Hospital.

Commissioners will take on the future of Prentice at their February 7th meeting.

The agenda, which was posted last Friday, includes two separate items that refer to the distinctive building, including “a revised report from the Department of Housing and Economic Development.”

Last November, the Commission granted – and then immediately revoked – preliminary landmark status for the clover-shaped hospital. The decision was followed by a lawsuit against the Commission on behalf of preservationists who want to save Prentice.

Earlier this month, Cook County Judge Neil Cohen dismissed the lawsuit, but called the Commission’s actions “arbitrary” and “not transparent.”

Michael Rachlis is spokesman for the Save Prentice Coalition. He says the Commission’s decision to include Prentice on its next agenda is clear acknowledgement there was a problem last time around.

“However, [because of] how they’re going about doing that, and putting forward what is very similar to the prior report and its unsupported nature, one could well be pessimistic,” Rachlis said. “But we certainly are hopeful that there’s going to be an open, transparent and non-preordained process.”

The Save Prentice Coalition says the upcoming meeting is still in violation of the Landmarks Ordinance.

In a statement, the group says the Landmarks Commission “must hold a full hearing on Prentice, allow the Coalition to present evidence regarding the architectural value and integrity of this unique architectural milestone, and base their decision on the criteria set forth in the ordinance.”

Prentice has been at the center of a heated debate between preservationists and Northwestern University for the last two years.

Northwestern wants to tear down the Bertrand Goldberg-designed building to make room for a new research facility.