Archive for the ‘preservation’ Tag

Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital, Chicago

Going, going, and almost gone. It’s probably now a matter of weeks before the distinctive cloverleaf towers come down. Demolition has been proceeding all summer, the rather utilitarian base structure is fast disappearing. This is another major loss for Chicago architecture, and it doesn’t seem like Northwestern is going to replace it with anything particularly distinctive, at least none of the other buildings on the medical campus are anything special.

Hospitals rarely last a long time, it’s probably true that the once-innovative features of Prentice Women’s Hospital went out of date back in the 1980s, but the building was very well built, a difficult and distinctive piece of engineering, and an important landmark in Bertrand Goldberg’s career. It’s been empty for years, but why tear it down when it can be creatively re-used?

So RIP Prentice.


Scaffolding is up, the building is coming down. A bit reminiscent of Richard Nickel's photos of the old Chicago Stock Exchange.

Scaffolding is up, the building is coming down. A bit reminiscent of Richard Nickel’s photos of the old Chicago Stock Exchange.


A distinctive presence among all the usual street level stuff!

Peoples Savings Bank, Cedar Rapids, IA

I revisited this structure recently, and described it in an earlier blog entry on Louis Sullivan’s buildings in Iowa. Completed in 1912, this is the most subtle of Sullivan’s Jewel Boxes, and his least exuberant, with a rather sober brick facade and a minimum of decoration. It lies across the river from downtown Cedar Rapids, and the building sustained major damage in the flood of 2008. As of today, it remains vacant, although it is still owned by Wells Fargo and there appears to be some effort to fix things up. The building is currently threatened, not only from the flood damage, but also from plans to beef up the levees to prevent a repeat of the 2008 flood.

Decorative elements and stained glass up top

The shape is unusual, not a box like his other banks, but a more complex double box form with a wide base and a smaller, central second story, and satellite light fixtures also designed by Sullivan. Above the main entry is a space for the sign, delineated by a very gently curving layer of brick. Along the sides are motifs spelling PSB, the initials of the bank, and on the top Sullivan introduces the gryphon that populates many of his bank buildings.

Main facade, note the horizontal brickwork above the main entrance

PSB logo, one of Sullivan’s few pieces of decoration on the building