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Prentice Womens Hospital

Chicago, United States of America
1 of 6

The Prentice Women's Hospital Building, formerly the Prentice-Stone Pavilion, is a vacant hospital on the Downtown Chicago campus of Northwestern University in the Streeterville district of Chicago's Near North Side. The brutalist design by architect Bertrand Goldberg features a 9-story concrete cloverleaf tower with oval windows cantilevered over a rectangular 5-story podium. The tower was used as a maternity center, with nursing stations located in the central core and patient wards in the four lobes - a layout which minimized distances between nurse and patient.

Unique structure

Aside from its unique shape, which structural engineer William F. Baker calls "the only example of its type anywhere in the world", the complex curvilinear structure made construction history with its use of early computer-aided design techniques. Software engineers at Bertrand Goldberg & Associates adapted software used by the aeronautical industry to create a 3D mapping technique which sped up the design by months.


The building was vacated in 2011 after serving as a hospital until the new Prentice Women's Hospital opened nearby at 250 East Superior Street in 2007. The building's fate is presently undetermined; Northwestern University plans to demolish it and replace it with a medical research facility. Preservationists and prominent architects (including at least 6 Pritzker Prize winners) have called on Northwestern and the City of Chicago to save the building, appealing to Chicago's "global reputation as a nurturer of bold and innovative architecture".

In the debate over the building's planned demolition, Northwestern argues that the site is needed for medical research aimed at attacking heart disease, cancer, and children's diseases. Preservationists have responded that Northwestern Memorial Hospital owns a two-square-block piece of vacant land directly across the street from Prentice, and within a potential skybridge's reach from the university's existing research building. As of September 2012, the building was awaiting a hearing before the Chicago Landmarks Commission sometime in autumn 2012.

On November 1, 2012, the Landmarks Commission went through an expedited landmark designation process, ultimately voting against the designation.

In Late November 2012, Cook County Circuit Court, Judge Neil Cohen entered a stay that restores the Commission's preliminary Landmark recommendation for the time being and bars the city from issuing a demolition permit. Judge Cohen set the next court date for December 7 and made it clear that he wanted to see Prentice protected in the interim.

Since the original denial of landmark status, The National Trust for Historic Preservation has sponsored a campaign to save the building, with the supporting website located here

On March 18, 2013, Northwestern announced the approval of the demolition permit for the building.

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mariathuroczy, December 11th, 2013
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