11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Prentice Women's Hospital

Year Listed: 2011
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Threat: Demolition

Significance

A concrete, cloverleaf-shaped icon, Prentice Women’s Hospital has added drama and interest to the Chicago skyline for nearly four decades. Progressive and cutting edge, the highly engineered and sculpted building was designed by famed Chicago architect Bertrand Goldberg. The late architect, best known for the design of Chicago’s Marina City, argued that imaginative and bold hospital planning could lead to a higher standard of patient care. Prentice Women’s Hospital is his tour de force. Believing that the modernist boxes typical of the 1970s were dehumanizing and insensitive to their surroundings, Goldberg designed an open-floor plan that created four circular villages of care on each floor, facilitating interaction between patients and staff while improving patient experience.

Originally constructed to house the Chicago Maternity Hospital and the Northwestern Institute of Psychiatry, Prentice Women’s Hospital’s modern design brought the building national and international acclaim when it opened in 1974.

When Prentice Women’s Hospital relocated to a new facility in 2007, the tower portion of the building was left vacant, and the tenant who occupies the building’s base will leave this September. The building’s owner, Northwestern University, has announced plans to raze the hospital in late 2011 in favor of a new research facility. The Commission on Chicago Landmarks placed the hospital on its June 2nd meeting agenda, but at the request of Northwestern University, the commission deferred consideration of Prentice Women’s Hospital until its July hearing. Northwestern University has agreed not to apply for a demolition permit during this deferral period. Like many of Goldberg’s architectural wonders in Chicago, the hospital still has no formal protection from demolition.