WBEZ | Dirk Lohan http://www.wbez.org/tags/dirk-lohan Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Famous architects step in to save the Prentice building http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/famous-architects-step-save-prentice-building-101229 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/RS2508_Prentice Women&#039;s Hospital_Flickr_TheeErin.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>More than 60 architects, educators and historic preservationists are betting their famous names might help prevent demolition of the old Prentice Women&rsquo;s Hospital.</p><p>Northwestern University owns the building and plans to tear it down for a research facility. Prominent architects, like Jeanne Gang and Frank Gehry, intervened on Wednesday and submitted a letter to Mayor Rahm Emanuel.</p><p>The architects called the clover-shaped building by Bertrand Goldberg a &ldquo;breakthrough in structural engineering&rdquo; and asked for landmark status.</p><p>Goldberg is a Chicago native who spent much of his career here and is best known for his Marina City towers. He studied under Mies van der Rohe at the Bauhaus in Berlin.</p><p>&ldquo;The legacy of Bertrand Goldberg&rsquo;s Prentice Women&rsquo;s Hospital is unmistakable,&rdquo; the letter says. &ldquo;Chicago&rsquo;s reputation as a nurturer of bold innovation and architecture will wither if the city cannot preserve its most important achievements.&rdquo;</p><p>But on Thursday, Northwestern said it has not changed its plans to demolish the building. A spokesperson said that it&rsquo;s &ldquo;unsuitable for the kind of modern biomedical research building the University needs to build on the site.&rdquo;</p><p>The university says a feasibility study showed the Prentice wouldn&rsquo;t be adequate as research space and would cost too much to convert.</p><p><strong><em>Listen to an extended excerpt from the interview with architect Dirk Lohan:</em></strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><div class="mediaelement-audio"><audio class="mediaelement-formatter-identified-1343432055-1" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/DirkLohan%20MP3_0.mp3">&nbsp;</audio></div><p>&nbsp;</p><p>One of the well-known architects who signed the letter asking for landmark status, Dirk Lohan, doesn&rsquo;t buy that argument.</p><p>He&rsquo;s the grandson of Mies van der Rohe. &nbsp;Lohan&rsquo;s legacy in Chicago involves the restructuring of classic old buildings like Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium and his controversial addition to Soldier Field. &nbsp;He&rsquo;s a fan of Goldberg&rsquo;s building.</p><p>&ldquo;These are the kinds of things that I think our city needs to think about, to rejuvenate older buildings that may not meet their original functions exactly the way they were meant to be,&rdquo; Lohan said. &ldquo;And I have a hard time believing that another use cannot be found to work within that structure.&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;&ldquo;Goldberg&rsquo;s work was singular and idiosyncratic,&rdquo; Lohan said. &ldquo;He was a creative talent that worked in a way in contrast to the predominant modern direction that was popular at that time.&rdquo;</p><p>Lohan said Goldberg&rsquo;s distinctive use of cement helped him stand out during this period when many modernist architects, like van der Rohe, were working primarily with glass and steel.</p><p>The Prentice building&rsquo;s concrete shell has been likened to a cloverleaf or flower petals.</p><p>&ldquo;You could read all kinds of things in it,&rdquo; Lohan said. &ldquo;I think the building also has a very sinuous quality, and it was a women&rsquo;s hospital. So to me, it expresses something about women&rsquo;s bodies that I find attractive.&rdquo;</p><p>The National Trust for Historic Preservation has joined the fight. It added the Prentice to its list of most endangered buildings last year.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 26 Jul 2012 18:22:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/sections/culture/famous-architects-step-save-prentice-building-101229