In the latest chapter of a fierce back-and-forth legal battle over the future of Prentice Women's Hospital in downtown Chicago, the Commission on Chicago Landmarks voted Thursday to revoke the building's landmark status for the second time since November. The move brings Northwestern one step closer to building a biomedical research facility on the site of the building University officials call outdated and unfit for high-level modern research.
As part of a recently-announced $1 billion initiative by the Feinberg Medical School to further the University's research capacity, Northwestern is looking to build a tower connected to Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago that will house research and testing in fields including neuroscience, diabetes and heart disease.
"If we want to attract the best and brightest researchers to advance these causes, we need the best state of the art facilities with enough room for all of it," said Bob Rowley, Northwestern director of media relations. "The current structure just isn't conducive to modern research...in its time it was fit for its purpose, but it's not built for sensitive microscopes, or for large instruments that need high ceilings."
But preservationists in the Save Prentice coalition continue to contest the demolition of the building, whose four towers designed in a four leaf clover pattern they say are a standard of modern achitecture. Cook County Circuit Judge Neil Cohen last month gave the group a 30-day window to file a formal complaint, citing a lack of due process in the Commission on Chicago Landmarks' original Nov. 1 rebuke of the building's landmark status. The complaint is set to be addressed in a Feb. 15 hearing of the Cook County Circuit Court.