When Northwestern University unveiled plans to demolish Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital in 2011, preservationists got peeved, then thrifty, and eventually combative. The game of political tug-of-war that ensued was long and arduous and rife with foul play, but eventually, the preservationists lost. Chicago rescinded the hospital's brief landmark status, the preservationists dropped their lawsuit, and last month, the bulldozers rolled.
Today, Northwestern gives Chicagoans the say they never had.
Starting today through November 12, Northwestern will display floor plans, renderings, and models by three architectural teams shortlisted in their Biomedical Research Building Competition—a pre-construction hoop set by the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR). According to spokeswoman Rosalie Harris, SOAR requested that Northwestern implement the competition to give Chicagoans a say in what would replace the iconic Marina City-sib.
In an open letter on SOAR's website, NU President Morton Schapiro invites "Northwestern Neighbor[s]" to "stop by [the Lurie Medical Center at 303 E. Superior], take a look at the competition entries and give…feedback on each of the proposals, using the handy comment cards that will be available."
Schapiro's letter also notes that Northwestern's Board of Trustees will make the final decision on a winner.
When asked to what degree the Board would consider citizen feedback, NU chief spokesman Al Cubbage said the cards would be "for general comment." SOAR spokeswoman Harris was unavailable for comment on the Board's democratic algorithm.
So, you know, stop by and cast your vote. But don't expect absolute electoral transparency.
The models will be on display from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. November 7, 8, 11, and 12, and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. November 9 to 10 (during the Streeterville Artisan Market). If you aren't able to stop by in person, you can check out the finalists online and submit comments via email. Or just scroll down.
(Exterior featured in main photo).