Archive for the ‘16535702’ Category

Don’t make Goldberg’s windows shed tears


Is Prentice Hospital in danger of being demolished? Code Blue emergency, intensive care needed? She sits by Chicago’s lakefront. Northwestern Memorial Hospital, which owns Prentice, has just opened a new maternity facility. About two months ago Northwestern told Landmarks Illinois that they do not plan to demolish the striking building from 1974-75. But an inside line is that while for now Northwestern needs the space in the old building, the long term objective could well be to tear down Prentice and put something more lucrative on the land.

Consider Northwestern’s ambitious hospital building program in the neighborhood, the desire for new technologies and comforts in hospitals today, and pricey land values there on Chicago’s Gold Coast.

Chicago’s enlightened City Council wouldn’t allow a building of that importance to be torn down, would it? Do you detect sarcasm ? Prentice, appallingly, does not have landmark protection.

She was designed, of course, by our great Bertrand Goldberg, the dapper fellow seen above.

You thought it looked familiar, in a Chicago kind of way?
Marina City, another local masterpiece by Bertrand Goldberg. Another masterpiece with no landmark protection. Now that’s really hard to believe.

Like all of Goldberg’s work, Prentice beams integrity.

He designed canvas houses, prefabricated low-cost houses, furniture and for the U.S. government – mobile vaccine laboratories. And he collaborated on projects with his friend and fellow ‘design scientist’ R. Buckminster Fuller.

Standing in front of Prentice, you can feel it breathe calmly, from deep inside its core.

Goldberg’s structurally innovative core holds up the cantilvered shell around it. His hospital plan here was copied far and wide. The blossoming layout – appropriate for a maternity hopsital – placed the doctors and nurses by the core and the rooms were clustered around them. Bertrand Goldberg ‘s son, the architect Geoffrey Goldberg, says

“The nurses and doctors could see the patients all at one time, and the patients could see them. This was unique at the time. It has proven successful – it is a sound idea, and made patients healthier, faster. It made a happy hospital.”

And it makes me happy to walk past it everyday. Its bulging curves – also appropriate for the function – are a joyful reminder that life is more complicated than most masculine, profit-obsessed, steel and glass boxes of Chicago might have you think.

Look at those windows! Here’s looking at you, kid! How human they are. Like eyes. You know maternity hospitals are emotional places. Save this building. Don’t make those windows shed tears.