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Perkins + Will to Design Prentice Hospital Replacement

Prentice Women's Hospital

Prentice Women’s Hospital

The long fight between Northwestern University and Chicago’s architecture community is finally over. For years, they’ve argued over whether the Prentice Women’s Hospital in the Streeterville neighborhood should be saved and remodeled or torn down.

Now the decision to demolish the building and construct a new one was finalized with the selection of Chicago-based architecture firm Perkins + Will as the winners of the new design for the Northwestern biomedical center at 333 E. Superior Street.

Created by the legendary architect Bertrand Goldberg (most famous for the local Marina City), Prentice Hospital was not very popular with the public and tourists. But the ugly duckling earned respect in the architecture community for its innovative design that took the use of concrete to another level and brought patients and nurses closer than ever before.

Northwestern conducted a study to see whether they could repurpose the good ol’ Prentice but with ambitious plans to create a 21st century medical research facility that will attract medical geniuses from around the world, Goldberg’s structure did not pass the test.

The new design by Perkins + Will, however, made the grade. Northwestern spokesman Alan Cubbage told the Tribune that the firm was picked because of its “elegant design and the functionality of the floor plans.” Ralph Johnson, the design director of Perkins + Will, calls it “progressively modern” – a practical space that will still be used for research 20 years from now.

Perkins + Will Northwestern Biomedical Design


The Streeterville Organization of Active Residents (SOAR) is not happy about the new design because it’s not as “iconic” as they were promised. Cubbage ensured that changes will be made as the project goes through its planning and permitting process. Only time will tell if these changes will actually make the building more iconic.

According to the firm’s website, the biomedical research facility is sculptural in design and utilizes green technology and other design features that are environmentally friendly and health conscious. The structure will include laboratory neighborhoods and collaborative spaces within, a connection to Northwestern’s already existing buildings, flexible conferencing suites, and plenty of exposure to daylight.

The project will cost $370 million and the university plans to begin construction in early 2015 and finish up by late 2018 or early 2019.