Preservation lawsuit over Chicago's Prentice Hospital dropped

Legal hurdle cleared for demolition of iconic modernist structure 

February 14, 2013 |
End of preservation suit allows demolition of iconic modernist structure.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Landmarks Illinois have dropped a lawsuit alleging that the city of Chicago improperly denied landmark status to Prentice Women's Hospital, an iconic modernist structure designed in the 1970s by Bertrand Goldberg. Owner Northwestern University will now be free to go forward with its plan to build a major new biomedical research facility on the downtown site.

The Prentice demolition has been under dispute for several years, as preservation enthusiasts attempted to make the case that the building, with its quatrefoil concrete shell cantilevered over a narrow core, was worth saving. Last November, in contentious proceedings, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks granted the building landmark status and then removed the designation on the same day.

After a hearing in Cook County Circuit Court, the preservation groups decided not to proceed. "We continue to believe there were significant flaws with the process that granted and then removed landmark protection for Prentice," said the National Trust in an official statement. "However, we feel that the landmarks process has run its course."

National Trust Field Officer Christina Morris said the groups will continue to cooperate with the city on preservation of historic structures, and that the Prentice situation has brought important attention to the role of modernist architecture in the U.S. “We will continue to work with our partners to preserve the best of Chicago’s architectural heritage.”


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