Global Now / Week 7

Preserving Integrity, Improving Efficiency, Redesign of Prentice Women’s Hospital

Elizabeth Gordon

Section: Cope

 Global Now: Abstract

Headline:  Jeanne Gang strives to save iconic Chicago architecture in the old Prentice Women’s Hospital

Date:  October 17th 2012

Source:  New York Times

Abstract:  The old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago is an interesting piece of architecture as it is a concrete structure shaped like a clover. As technology has drastically improved since its construction in 1975, the building can no longer support the modern hospital. Northwestern University currently owns the building and is looking to tear it down to build a modern hospital. Many architects have signed a petition to save the building, the leader being Jeanne Gang. Gang acknowledges the building must change to remain current. However, she has plans that will keep the iconic structure and maintain its integrity while making it modern and efficient. Much like Julie Bargmann of DIRT studio, Gang is focused of logical design that keeps a space as untouched as possible, utilizing the existing structures and materials.  McDonough and Braungart address the path materials take throughout their life. In nature, biodegradable materials are broken down to support another life. With industrial materials there is no way to break them down to a natural state. Designers like Gang and Bargmann must find ways to repurpose industrial materials, making them useful waste. Instead of tearing down the old Prentice Women’s Hospital, Gang proposes building a modern tower on top of the existing structure, and updating the old hospital while maintaining its iconic nature. Demolished materials from the old structure will be used in the new building.


Global Issue:  repurposing, preserving, maintain integrity, saving history, building the future, DIRT

Primary Design Lens:  Design for Change

Secondary Design Lens:  Local Design


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