Emanuel said he still plans to meet again with proponents both of saving and tearing down the building in the Streeterville neighborhood, which Northwestern University wants to replace with a new biomedical research facility. Preservationists hope to save the building, which was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg.
Asked what possible compromise he might be able to forge, Emanuel said he's still trying to figure it out.
"That is the riddle, and I'm working towards that," he said. "And there may not be common ground or a third way, and then we'll have to deal with that. But most importantly, on the first step, this was a conversation between Northwestern and the preservationists. I think, the way I believe is, there are people that live there, operate there and have businesses. And they should be part of that conversation as well, because they're part of that community."
During a Monday appearance at the City Club of Chicago, Ald. Brendan Reilly, who represents Streeterville, said his inclination is to back the university's plan to replace Prentice with a new building. None of the alternate plans preservationists have brought forward are appropriate for the Prentice building, which is currently vacant, Reilly said. But he added he's still open to other ideas for the site.
Aldermen are traditionally given a great deal of leeway to make zoning and construction decisions within their wards.
A proposal to grant landmark status to the Prentice building is pending before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks. If the city grants the protection, it would be much more difficult for Northwestern to significantly alter or tear down the concrete building.