In what may be the final move in a protracted fight over a famous Chicago building, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks will meet Thursday to discuss the fate of Prentice Women’s Hospital, the vacant Bertrand Goldberg-designed, clover-shaped structure in Streeterville. The hospital, built in 1975, has been vacant since 2011, and Northwestern University would like to raze the structure to build a new research facility. Preservationists are battling back, arguing that the building is too special to the city to lose. In advance of the much-anticipated meeting, here is a primer on how the Prentice fight got this far (and some interesting stops made along the way).
1975 The Prentice Women’s Hospital is built.
October 2007 Northwestern finishes a new women’s hospital as part of Northwestern Memorial, confirming that Old Prentice no longer serves much of a purpose as it is.
March 26, 2011 Chicago Tribune reports that Northwestern is planning on razing the building and build all new research facilities.
April 4, 2011 Alderman Brendan Reilly of the 42nd Ward (which contains Streeterville) places a hold on the demolition of Prentice for 60 days to gather more information about possible uses for the space.
April 22, 2011 Landmarks Illinois releases a report saying the building can be retained and built upon rather than demolished.
May 25, 2011 Northwestern releases a report on its own, saying that even if the building were to undergo total renovation, it would still not meet the research needs Northwestern has. Demolition is back on after the building is completely emptied in fall 2011.
June 2, 2011 The Commission on Chicago Landmarks defers a decision on whether to grant the space landmark status through at least July.
November 16, 2011 The situation devolves into a stalemate after the Emanuel administration allegedly voiced concerns over whether Northwestern would actually be able to build a facility after demolition and not just leave an empty lot in Streeterville.
August 15, 2012 The Reader’s Ben Joravsky reports that the standstill is over and preservationists are using Mayor Emanuel’s post-NATO Chicago love to take a stand in support of the unique structure.
September 10, 2012 The Commission on Chicago Landmarks agrees to put Prentice Hospital on its fall agenda.
October 16, 2012 Alderman Reilly, who placed a hold on the destruction of Prentice in 2011, comes out in support of demolition.
October 17, 2012 In response, The New York Times contacts local architect Jeanne Gang to sketch a possible design of how Northwestern could improve on the site while maintaining the clover base.
October 30, 2012 Mayor Emanuel also comes out in support of Northwestern’s plans for demolition.
October 31, 2012 The Sun-Times publishes a helpful graphic of how the two groups would use the space, depending on the decision by the landmarks commission.
November 1, 2012 The Commission on Chicago Landmarks plans to meet at City Hall at 12:45 p.m. to discuss whether to grant landmark status, and thus reprieve, to Prentice.