In a surprising development today, the city’s Commission on Chicago Landmarks will consider granting preliminary landmark status to Prentice Womens Hospital, the Bertrand Goldberg-designed structure under threat of being demolished by Northwestern University.
Until now, the city remained publicly silent on the Prentice as preservation of the iconic 36-year-old building developed into a cause celebre in the city’s preservation community. But the switch became public this afternoon when the commission released an amended agenda for its Thursday meeting that included Prentice as an item. If the panel approves the city staff’s recommendation, Prentice will be protected from demolition while landmarks officials enter a process to determine whether permanent landmark status is warranted.
“We’ve always believed Prentice needed its ‘day in court’,” preservation organization Landmarks Illinois Advocacy Director Lisa DiChiera said, adding the commission “needs to take a position as to whether this building—that we believe is a modern masterpiece and viable for reuse—is eligible for landmark designation.”
Northwestern agreed to a 60-day waiting period to weight alternatives to demolition, but the agreement expired tomorrow. Preservation group Landmarks Illinois presented the university with a reuse study for the former hospital last month, the school had pretty much determined the building’s fate, with an official telling the Sun-Times two days ago, “We do not think it’s worthy of being a landmark” and there was “no feasible way of reusing the building to meet the university’s needs.”
The landmark commissions’ meeting will be held in City Hall, room 201-A at 12:45pm.