Dennis FitzSimons, Chairman, Robert R. McCormick Foundation
September 6, 2012
The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
Mayor, City of Chicago
121 North LaSalle Street
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Dear Mayor Emanuel:
Northwestern University is planning construction of a $350 million medical research facility on the site of the old Prentice hospital in Streeterville. The current Prentice structure is no longer functional and renovating it would be prohibitively expensive and would still leave it woefully inadequate as a research facility.
As you know, Northwestern attracts over $300 million a year in biomedical research and expects this new facility to bring in another $150 million in additional grant support. It will require over 1,500 new jobs for highly skilled people. In addition, this building will be constructed adjacent to Northwestern’s current research facility so as to allow for the combination of efforts. Importantly, this medical research building will also house the research efforts of the Lurie Children’s Hospital, one of the principal reasons that the new facility was located adjacent to the Northwestern medical campus.
You are well aware of the significant effort to prevent the demolition of the old Prentice Hospital building and to preserve it as a national historic landmark. It may have been designed by a notable architect, but the Prentice structure is viewed by many in the neighborhood as an eyesore, and its preservation is certainly not the highest and best use of the site at this time.
Given the importance of enhancing Northwestern’s reputation as a cutting-edge provider of biomedical research and by extension, Chicago’s reputation as well, I urge you to not allow the old Prentice hospital to receive landmark status and allow demolition to proceed. I have attached a relevant Chicago Tribune editorial that is eloquent in stating the case for Northwestern to be able to make its own decisions on this matter.
Thank you for your consideration.
Robert R. McCormick Foundation