Prentice Reuse Analysis

Prentice Women's HospRenovating the old Prentice Hospital building on Northwestern University's Chicago campus for use as a medical research facility is not feasible, according to a consultants' study. The study by Jacobs Consultancy, Inc., Thornton-Tomasetti and Affiliated Engineers shows that even if the building could be renovated, the building still would not provide adequate space to meet the research needs of the Feinberg School of Medicine and would not meet the necessary technical standards for such research facilities. In addition, because the existing floors do not have adequate height, a renovated building could only use every other floor, thereby significantly reducing the efficiency of the building (and dramatically increasing the cost per usable square foot).

Northwestern has been consistent and transparent with the community and elected officials for 15 years about its need for research space and its plans to demolish old Prentice and replace it with a new research facility. NU and its partner hospitals have a vision to become one of the top ten academic medical centers in the country. An expanded medical research program is one of the cornerstones of that effort. Medical research at NU has doubled over the last decade to $300 million a year at present. The Feinberg School of Medicine has determined that there is a need for approximately another 400,000 net sf of research space over the next decade; additional space will be needed beyond that. This research space has to be state of the art in its configuration in order to attract the best researchers in the country to Chicago. The current research facilities are connected by bridges and tunnels; in order to improve the synergy among the researchers it is important that new research facilities be physically connected to the existing research buildings. Research on the scale envisioned by the medical school will provide a major positive impact on Chicago with the prestige from having one of the top tier academic medical centers in the country; the improved health care that comes from having the best researchers and clinicians; an additional $200 million per year in research funds (plus the multiplier effect that results in a much greater positive financial impact on Chicago); and the creation of over 2,000 full time jobs.

Northwestern University's internal staff analysis of old Prentice concluded that old Prentice could not be successfully renovated as state of the art medical research labs. However, once NU received the Landmarks Illinois study that concluded that old Prentice could be successfully renovated into state of the art labs, the University gave very careful thought to the Landmarks Illinois study and decided that it was important to bring in outside experts and hired the nationally renowned team described above to undertake an in-depth analysis of the building's potential to be used as medical research labs. This consultant team has been involved in the development of over 200 research labs across the country and clearly has the expertise to undertake the assessment. Northwestern has no need for the residential space suggested in the Landmarks Illinois study (since the University recently sold its residential property at 850 Lake Shore Drive) and the University has no need to develop more office space as suggested in the study (since it still has vacant office space in its existing buildings and can easily rent nearby office space in the community). The University's critical need is for research space (and in the location where old Prentice is sited); therefore, the consultants' efforts were focused on the reuse as research labs.

The consultants' conclusion is that old Prentice cannot be renovated to meet today's research lab standards (see Table 1 below). They also determined that, even if old Prentice could be successfully renovated, it would cost more per usable square foot to renovate the building than to build new (see Table 2 below) and it would provide less than ¼ of the research lab space that could be built on the site. That smaller facility would result in the loss to Chicago of over $150 million per year in research funds and a loss to Chicago of over 1500 full time jobs. The small amount of research space that could be provided in a renovation of old Prentice (even though renovation for that purpose is not feasible) would also undermine the mission and vision of the Feinberg School of Medicine and its partner hospitals to become one of the country's best academic medical centers. The need to provide additional state of the art medical research facilities is a mission critical issue for Northwestern University and the potential for the preservation and reuse of old Prentice was given very careful thought and analysis. Based on the University's strategic plan and the results of the consultants' study, the University has concluded that the reuse of old Prentice cannot meet the strategic needs of Northwestern University and the building needs to be demolished to make way for construction of a state of the art medical research facility.

Nov. 1, 2012: Statement by Eugene S. Sunshine, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance

Nov. 13, 2012: Architects from 13 countries have contributed entries for the "Future Prentice" competition.

See the full consultants' report.

Table 1

OLD PRENTICE ANALYSIS; MEDICAL RESEARCH LAB CRITERIA

Criteria

Landmarks Plan   

NU Renov Plan   

NU New Constr

Building efficiency at 55-60%

No

No (39%)

Yes

Lab Modules at 10'-6" to 11'-0"

Yes

Yes

Yes

Suspended ceilings

No

Yes

Yes

Ceiling height of 9-10' A.F.F.

No

No

Yes

Indirect lighting

No

No

Yes

Floor loading of 100-125 psf

No

Yes

Yes

Vibration of <2,000 micro in./sec

No

No

Yes

Physically connect to other res lab

Yes

Yes

Yes

Floor plate size of 25,000+ gsf

No

No

Yes

Table 2

Old Prentice: Renovation vs. New Construction

Landmarks Illinois Plan   

NU Consultants' Analysis

Renovation cost:

$185-200/gross sf

$387/gross sf

Building efficiency:

54%

39%

Renovation cost:

$342-370/net sf

$992/net sf

New construction cost:

$336-350/gross sf

$506/gross sf

Building efficiency:

57%

57%

New construction cost:

$589-614/net sf

$888/net sf