Alderman Reilly supports demolishing Prentice Women’s Hospital

Ald. Reilly (42nd) says the current building can’t meet the needs of a world-class hospital facility

October 15, 2012

Prentice Women's Hospital was designed in 1975 by Bertrand Goldberg.

Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly (42nd) expressed his support Monday for demolishing Prentice Women’s Hospital.

A heated debate over the unique building has been underway for months. Northwestern University wants to tear down the vacant clover-shaped hospital to build a new, high-tech medical research facility downtown.

Architecture preservationists want Northwestern to repurpose Prentice, citing its value as a relic of 1970s Brutalist architecture. But the alderman and Mayor Rahm Emanuel had both refrained from weighing in.

Ald. Reilly said he sympathizes with preservationists, but he doesn’t think repurposing Prentice will work.

“My inclination, unfortunately, would be to allow the university to proceed with its plans,” Reilly told members of the Chicago Club of Chicago on Monday. He cited a study conducted by preservationists on possible uses of the building that “fell short of what the university needs to operate a world-class research facility that would add thousands of jobs to Chicago.”

The battle doesn’t end with the alderman. Northwestern has already promised to build a new architectural "marvel" on the site of Prentice. And sometime this fall, Chicago’s Landmarks Commission is expected to consider whether to protect the hospital as an architectural landmark.