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August 2, 2012

The Honorable Rahm Emanuel
Mayor Chicago
121 North LaSalle Street, Room 507
Chicago, IL 60602

RE: Prentice Women's Hospital Site Re-Use Medical Research Tower

Dear Mayor Emanuel:

I am writing to express my interest in the ongoing discussions regarding the Prentice Hospital building on the Northwestern University Medical Center campus in Chicago and its re-use.

As an award-winning architect of academic medical facilities throughout the United States, l feel that I am well positioned to offer the following opinions regarding the potential re-use of Prentice for medical research uses.

I looked carefully at the existing building, specifically at its structural system, floor-to-floor heights, floor configurations and exterior envelope. The existing building would not serve well for any medical research uses for the following reasons:

1. The floor-to-floor height of 10' 8" is simply inadequate for modern research uses. Typically, we design for a minimum of 15-16' floor-to-floor to accommodate flexible services, adequate natural and artificial lighting and adequate ceiling space for lab equipment and fixtures.

2. I understand the existing floor slabs cannot be easily penetrated for new services. This is dysfunctional for providing flexible and responsive servicing for technical equipment.

3. The floor configuration of the elliptical lobes do not lend themselves to an efficient arrangement of lab casework, fixtures and equipment.

4. I understand the exterior wall is cast in place and serves as the perimeter structure for the building and cannot be altered accordingly. The existing fenestration does not lend itself to modern, attractively lit, open floor plans for medical research space.

5. There does not appear to be mechanical service chases or shafts in adequate number or size to serve the needs of modern medical research.

6. The existing building is small and does not represent an appropriate utilization of this precious site.

For these, and a number of other reasons, I cannot support trying to re-use the existing building for medical research or any other medical academic use. Having grown up in Chicago and having been inspired by the extraordinary architecture of Chicago, I can appreciate the interest of some in preserving the existing building, but I have to say that it has long passed its usefulness and purpose.

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts with you. l would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss this information in further detail at your convenience should you so desire.


Richard L. Kobus, FAlA, FACHA
Senior Principal