Prentice Women's Hospital Building

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Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center
Prentice Hospital 1.jpg
General information
Status Demolished
Type Hospital
Location 333 E. Superior St.
Chicago, Illinois
United States
Coordinates 41°53′44″N 87°37′08″W / 41.89542°N 87.61887°W / 41.89542; -87.61887Coordinates: 41°53′44″N 87°37′08″W / 41.89542°N 87.61887°W / 41.89542; -87.61887
Construction started 1972[1]
Completed 1975
Opened December 10, 1975[1]
Inaugurated January 22, 1976[2]
Demolished 2013–2014
Technical details
Floor count 14[3]
Design and construction
Architect Bertrand Goldberg & Associates
Structural engineer Bertrand Goldberg & Associates
Main contractor Paschen Contractors, Inc., Gust K. Newberg Construction Co.

The Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center was a hospital on the Downtown Chicago campus of Northwestern University's Northwestern Memorial Hospital in the Streeterville district of Chicago's Near North Side.


The Brutalist design by architect Bertrand Goldberg featured a 9-story concrete quatrefoil tower with oval windows cantilevered over a rectangular 5-story podium.[4] 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.[5]

Aside from its unique shape, which structural engineer William F. Baker calls "the only example of its type anywhere in the world",[6] 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.[5]


Goldberg began design in 1971, after the consolidation of Passavant Deaconess Hospital and Wesley Hospital. It was named for Abra “Abbie” Cantrill Prentice. It was opened in 1975.[1]

The building was vacated in 2011[7] after serving as a hospital until the new Prentice Women's Hospital opened nearby at 250 East Superior Street in 2007.[8] Northwestern University announced plans to demolish it and replace it with a medical research facility.[4][6] Preservationists and prominent architects (including at least 6 Pritzker Prize winners) had called on Northwestern and the City of Chicago to save the building,[9] appealing to Chicago's "global reputation as a nurturer of bold and innovative architecture". Jeanne Gang presented a reuse design incorporating the building into a skyscraper.[10]

In the debate over the building's planned demolition, Northwestern argued that the site was needed for medical research aimed at attacking heart disease, cancer, and children's diseases.[7] Preservationists 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.[8]

Historic preservation attempts[edit]

In September 2012, the Chicago Landmarks Commission stated it would hold a hearing about the building in autumn 2012.[11] On November 1, 2012, the Landmarks Commission went through an expedited landmark designation process, ultimately voting against the designation.[12]

In late November 2012, Cook County Circuit Court, Judge Neil Cohen entered a stay that restored the Commission’s preliminary Landmark recommendation for the time being and barred 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.[13] After the original denial of landmark status, the National Trust for Historic Preservation sponsored a campaign to save the building.[14]

On March 18, 2013, Northwestern announced the approval of the demolition permit for the building.[15] The National Trust for Historic Preservation cited the site as one of ten historic sites lost in 2013.[16]

On October 29, 2013, an 8-minute documentary, about the struggle to save the building from demolition, was released online after screening at the Durban International Film Festival, Architecture Film Festival Rotterdam and the Architecture & Design Film Festival New York.[17] The film was produced and directed by Northwestern graduate Nathan Eddyand features interviews with Vanity Fair architecture critic Paul Goldberger, local Chicago preservation groups and Northwestern University.[18] It played in Chicago in March 2014, when the building was almost completely gone.

Demolition of the building was completed in September 2014.



  1. ^ a b c Ribstein, Susannah. "Prentice Women’s Hospital Landmark Nomination" (PDF). National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved December 21, 2013. 
  2. ^ Page, Eleanor (1976-01-08). "Big day in store for new women's hospital". Chicago Tribune. 
  3. ^ "Old Prentice Women's Hospital Building in Chicago, Illinois, United States - Phorio".  Retrieved 2012-09-18.
  4. ^ a b Grossman, Ron. "Debate over Chicago's Prentice hospital heats up". Chicago Tribume. Retrieved September 4, 2012. 
  5. ^ a b Goldberg, Geoffrey (2012-09-05) "Let's Save an Architectural Gem That Also Pioneered Engineering".  Engineering News Record online. Retrieved 2012-09-09.
  6. ^ a b Kamin, Blair (2012-08-03) "Emanuel noncommittal on fate of Prentice building" Chicago Tribune
  7. ^ a b Joravsky, Ben (2012-08-16) "Prentice preservationists put Rahm in a bind" Chicago Reader
  8. ^ a b Isaacs, Deanna (2012-08-30) "Rahm's golden opportunity: save Prentice hospital" Chicago Reader
  9. ^ ArchitectureChicago Plus blog (2012-08-30) "Herzog and de Meuron, Souto de Moura, Ando and Venturi add their voices to saving Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Hospital". 
  10. ^ Kimmelman, Michael (October 17, 2012). "A Vision to Avoid Demolition for a ’70s Pioneer". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 August 2014. 
  11. ^ Isaacs, Deanna (2012-09-06) "Prentice will get its hearing at the Landmarks Commission" Chicago Reader
  12. ^ Studenkov, Igor (1 November 2012). "Prentice Denied Landmark Status". Skyline. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Prentice Hospital Granted Temporary Reprieve". National Trust for Historic Preservation. Retrieved 29 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "Prentice Women's Hospital". Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  15. ^ Geiger, Kim. "Northwestern gains permit to raze old Prentice hospital". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 30 March 2013. 
  16. ^ staff (January 5, 2014). "A look at 10 historic sites save, 10 lost in 2013". Associated Press as reported by the Post Crescent. p. F3. 
  17. ^ "The Absent Column". Vimeo. Retrieved March 24, 2017. 
  18. ^ Johnson, Sara. "Goodbye, Prentice Women's Hospital". Architect. 

External links[edit]