The Absent Column / Nathan Eddy / 2013

The Absent Column / Nathan Eddy / 2013


Footnotes

The cloverleaf plan was intended to create “quiet villages” of patient rooms, encouraging family-oriented childbirth, one of the first times this idea was essential to a hospital’s design. Beyond making health-care history, Prentice made architectural technology history, too: it was designed using an early form of computer modeling, making it, in effect, a guinea pig for the digital systems by which almost everything is now designed. ➡︎

The wedge-shaped rooms created by the round units, Malkin says, are particularly ill-suited to the needs of a hospital—the room is at its narrowest at the entryway, where the gurney and equipment have to be wheeled in and out, and the lack of right angles wastes space and makes rooms difficult to furnish. In addition, there is a big drawback to the circular form that Goldberg didn’t seem to consider: noise. His rounded units concentrate and reflect sound in much the same way as the domed ceiling of a church, meaning that busy wards can become positively cacophonous and patients often have trouble sleeping. “I can’t think of one benefit of this layout,” Malkin says. “Not one. Tearing these things down would be the kindest thing to do, because I can tell you that they cannot be renovated for anything that is useful. The circular design is absurd.” ➡︎

Let us move beyond a simple set of black-and-white conclusions and a static set of rules that leaves only two camps: those who are stuck in the past, and those blindly drawn to the future. For Prentice could have been the champion of something else: it could have been a time when the city renewed itself through creative reuse, or when innovation meant experimentation with existing constraints instead of starting anew. In that time, the future was here, and it was just a matter of telling the story in a way that everyone could understand. ➡︎


Extras

✖︎ Prentice Women’s Hospital / Bertrand Goldberg / 1975

◼︎ Winners of the 2012 Chicago Prize Competition: Future Prentice / Bustler / 2012


Sources

◼︎ Paul Goldberger on the Fight to Save Chicago's Prentice Hospital / Paul Goldberger / Vanity Fair / 2012

◼︎ The Goldberg Remedy / Mason Currey / Metropolis / 2009

◼︎ When the Future Was Here / Paola Aguirre & Michelle Ha Tucker / MAS Context / 2015


Shape of Space: A Tale of Two Prentices / Justin Eure, Leslie Trew Magraw & Ronnie Reese / 2011

Shape of Space: A Tale of Two Prentices / Justin Eure, Leslie Trew Magraw & Ronnie Reese / 2011

This Is Marina City / Portland Cement Association / 1965

This Is Marina City / Portland Cement Association / 1965