Chicago alderman sides with Northwestern plan to demolish Prentice

Susan Du, City Editor

Chicago Ald. Brendan Reilly (42nd) announced Monday that he supports Northwestern’s plan to build a new research facility in place of the old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Streeterville, despite preservationist efforts to save the Bertrand Goldberg building.

The Prentice site falls within the 42nd Ward. Reilly stated his support of NU at a City Club of Chicago luncheon, the Chicago Tribune reported this afternoon.

“It’s not something I’m excited or happy about, and I’m very, very sensitive to the preservation community’s concerns,” Reilly told reporters after the event, according to the Tribune. “But again, you can’t saddle a university with land that’s not useful to it. If they were interested in selling that parcel, then a hotel use or a dormitory/residential use (within the existing building) might make sense.”

NU maintains that the old hospital is outdated and unable to house modern research facilities. The University argues that demolishing Prentice and rebuilding on the site would transform the Streeterville landscape in favor of local businesses, create jobs and attract world-class professionals in the medical industry.

Preservationists, including architects worldwide, have questioned NU’s assertion that the Prentice site in the only option for building such a biomedical research facility when the University in facts owns a large portion of Streeterville. Although they tend to acknowledge NU’s findings that the old hospital cannot continue to serve as a medical facility in the same capacity that it once did, they asked the University to reconsider demolition in favor of transforming the building into administrative offices or housing for students attending school on the Chicago campus.

— Susan Du