Michael Reese Hospital Article

Posted on August 13th, 2009 in All Articles, Bronzeville, South Loop.

Check out this article on the debate over preserving parts of Michael Reese hospital for the 2016 Olympic games if they come to Chicago:

Push to preserve Michael Reese Hospital buildings
REAL ESTATE | Chicago 2016 panel has talked about plans that would preserve some Gropius structures

August 12, 2009
DAVID ROEDER droeder@suntimes.com

Preservationists’ quest to save parts of the former Michael Reese Hospital campus seemed improbable at first. But it’s beginning to look like a serious challenge to Mayor Daley’s desire for demolition for the sake of the 2016 Summer Olympics.
Two independent sources said Tuesday that the Chicago 2016 organizing committee has held discussions over plans that would preserve some structures on the campus. One proposal is expected to be submitted within days and will come from preservation activists. Another, the sources said, is being drafted by Chicago architectural firm DeStefano & Partners.

Both would try to blend the Olympics-turned-private housing idea with some Reese structures, especially those attributed to architect Walter Gropius. Landmarks groups have protested Daley’s planned wholesale demolition on the grounds that the Gropius buildings are significant in the history of post-World War II architecture. They also argue that tearing them down would make Chicago look backward just when it’s trying to invite the world to its lakefront.

James DeStefano and Joseph Gonzalez, principals at the DeStefano firm, did not return calls. Jaclyn Valrose, spokeswoman for Chicago 2016, said it “has bounced around ideas with architects and other groups” concerning the Reese site. But she said it possesses no proposals that call for saving buildings.

Last week, pro-Gropius entreaties from Landmarks Illinois, Preservation Chicago and an ad hoc group called the Gropius in Chicago Coalition drew a sympathetic ear from the Daley-appointed Commission on Chicago Landmarks. The panel refused to endorse federal landmarking of the entire 37-acre Reese site, but it informally concurred that some of the structures are worth saving. Research found that eight of the 29 Reese buildings can be traced to Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus School of modern architecture.

Chicago is expected to hear on Oct. 2 whether the International Olympic Committee will award it the 2016 Summer Games. If the Games go elsewhere, preserving the buildings will become the best option. If Chicago gets the games, Daley may find that Gropius, 40 years after his death, will improve the look of his Olympic Village.