Mayor backs plan for cutting-edge medical research facility
Prentice Women's Hospital, 333 E. Superior St. (Heather Charles, Chicago Tribune / May 25, 2011)
The announcement, which comes after months of debate, was made by the mayor in an opinion piece submitted to the Chicago Tribune.
"It is clear that the current building cannot accommodate the groundbreaking research facility that Northwestern needs to build, and I support the decision to rebuild on the site," Emanuel wrote.
After spending several weeks telling reporters he was going to meet with community members, preservationists and the university before taking a position on the fate of the Bertrand Goldberg-designed building in the Streeterville neighborhood, the mayor wrote that a new Northwestern medical research center on the site of the old Prentice building will "further drive an emerging scientific research hub in the area," as well as promoting job growth and bring in more grant money.
"I know not everyone will agree with my viewpoint on this," Emanuel's opinion says. "I appreciate the position of the preservationists and their passion. I understand that Chicago’s architectural heritage is part of the city’s magnetic pull and a critical piece of what makes Chicago a world-class city."
The Save Prentice Coalition, a group that formed to try to stop the demolition, released a statement saying Emanuel should let the Chicago Landmarks Commission decide whether to protect the building.
"Northwestern says it can only conduct important medical research and create jobs by tearing down Prentice. Apparently, Mayor Emanuel finds this argument persuasive. We do not," the group's statement reads in part.
"The truth is, we can have cutting-edge research and preserve our history," the Save Prentice Coalition's statement says. "Options for reusing Prentice exist and would create more jobs than new construction, but Northwestern has refused even to consider these alternatives."
Eugene Sunshine, Northwestern's vice president for business and finance, released a statement saying the university is pleased with Emanuel's stance.
"Forcing Northwestern to preserve an outdated building that does not meet the University’s needs would have a significant detrimental impact not just on Northwestern, but also on the Chicago metropolitan area," Sunshine's statement reads in part. "Northwestern plans to build a new, state-of-the-art biomedical research facility on that site."
The university plans to present its position to the Chicago Commission on Landmarks Thursday, "and we hope to convince the commissioners to also support that position," Sunshine's statement says.