Last spring, former CW editor Sam Feldman chronicled the fate of the Michael Reese Hospital campus as a result of the failed Olympic bid for Newcity. The city has always intended to tear down the Bronzeville hospital complex, be it originally for the proposed Olympic village or now for the land to be sold off to developers. But this came to the chagrin of many preservationists and architecture buffs, who shuddered at the thought of loosing the campus co-designed by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement. As a compromise Mayor Daley had promised that the hospital’s main building, an unusual Prairie Style high-rise, would be saved from the wrecking ball.
As it turns out, the city is now planning to tear down that main hospital building by the end of the year, citing the poor condition of the building and the costs involved in restoring it. Lee Bay has posted a nice synopsis of the situation on his blog for WBEZ. As a consolation the Singer Pavilion, designed by Gropius, has been assured to remain standing. However, the Chicago Tribune’s architecture writer Blair Kamin has called into question the honesty of this promise and brought attention to the questionable decision-making process behind these series of moves.
It has been more than a year after the city’s Olympic bid failed, and the community is still struggling with the fallout. As Sam pointed out in his article, many of the communities that were highlighted by the Olympic bid have fallen back into the periphery of the city’s collective vision; much of the urban plight that was promised to be tackled by the bid still remains unaddressed. But if anything positive can be gleaned from the story of the hospital, at least Chicago politics is working as well as ever.