Where Prentice Stood

The former site of the Prentice Women's Hospital building by Bertrand Goldberg, demolished in 2014.
The upper floors of the new Arkes Pavilion give a clear view of 333 East Superior, where the old Prentice Women’s Hospital building stood.  Completed in 1975, the building was part of Northwestern Hospital, which demolished it in 2013-14, despite long and intense opposition.  The building’s architect was Bertrand Goldberg.

Prentice, which housed not only Northwestern’s maternity hospital but its psychiatric ward, was unforgettable on account of its peculiar rounded tower, a cylindrical cluster in the shape of a clover-leaf or quatrefoil, which seemed to float or balloon over a squat dark building that formed its base.  The tower, made mainly of poured concrete, had disproportionately small oval windows whose placement accentuated the tower’s strange shape.

The building was an example of the brutalist style (of which Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago is an instance, too).  It was assertively drab; impractical, too.  Ironic, then, that it should live on in one’s mind: provocative and futuristic, one-of-a-kind.