Gropius in Chicago Coalition, Protest, Michael Reese Hospital

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Michael Reese Hospital Chicago, USA : Information

Demolition of Walter Gropius Buildings

Nov 25, 2009

Gropius in Chicago Coalition – News

GROPIUS IN CHICAGO COALITION MAKES PERSONAL PLEA TO CHICAGO CITY HALL TO STOP THE DEMOLITION OF WALTER GROPIUS BUILDINGS ON MICHAEL REESE HOSPITAL CAMPUS

CHICAGO, Illinois, USA (Tuesday, November 24, 2009) – The Gropius in Chicago Coalition, represented by over 40 concerned citizens from all neighborhoods of Chicago, came to Chicago’s City Hall today to personally deliver packets of statistical findings and supporting letters to Mayor Daley and key city officials. The group’s plea, echoed the world over, is simple: “Stop Chicago’s Senseless Gropius Demolition.”

Gropius in Chicago Coalition members wait in line to attest to their presence during the delivery of messages to Chicago’s Department of Community Development:
Gropius in Chicago Coalition Protest
photo : Debbie Dodge / Gropius in Chicago Coalition

WHY: As of today four key Gropius buildings at Michael Reese Hospital, or one half of all the Gropius works in the State of Illinois, have been destroyed by Chicago: The Friend Convalescent Home, the Laundry Building, the Serum Center and now the Power Plant (demolition underway). Yet it is still possible to save the remaining four Gropius-designed Structures on the campus. In the process, Chicago would stop what certainly amounts to a disaster on the order of the 1972 demolition of the Chicago Stock Exchange, a regrettably lost Louis Sullivan work whose absence is still reviled as a cultural scar across the United States.

Grahm Mathew Balkany, Director of the Gropius in Chicago Coalition, stated today: “We call upon Mayor Daley, once known as a champion for architectural landmarks, to step up to the plate and stop the demolition of Walter Gropius’s work immediately. To understand the vast potentials of our Gropius heritage, one need only look as far as New York City , where a massive exhibition on Gropius and the Bauhaus is currently being received to great applause at the Museum of Modern Art.”

Serum Center:
Walter Gropius Building Chicago
photo © Grahm M. Balkany / Gropius in Chicago Coalition

STATISTICS: Chicago plans to tear down 7 of 8 Gropius buildings at Michael Reese Hospital (the eighth is being spared from demolition on a strictly trial basis and may also be demolished). Chicago is the first city government in the world to willfully tear down a Gropius project. If all seven projects are demolished, Chicago will be destroying more than 20% of all built Gropius projects in the United States. The Michael Reese Hospital development, in which Gropius participated from 1945 through 1959, was Gropius’s longest and most wide-ranging commission in the United States.

Acquiring and demolishing Michael Reese Hospital is costing Chicago’s taxpayers $91 Million, which is currently in the form of a deferred mortgage whose payments commence in five years. Chicago is clearing the site without a developer or any solid plan for the future. The parcel, 37 acres in size, is over 13 times as large as Block 37, the city-sponsored downtown redevelopment that has been beleaguered for decades.

Laundry building:
Walter Gropius Laundry building
photograph © Grahm M. Balkany / Gropius in Chicago Coalition

Next Steps: The Gropius in Chicago Coalition will continue to advocate for the retention of Chicago’s unique Gropius heritage. However, Mayor Daley needs to call off the bulldozers immediately, as additional works of Gropius (and many other noteworthy architects) will be lost in the days ahead. The architecture at Michael Reese Hospital is readily convertible for new market-rate or affordable housing, schools, museums, clinics, offices, or a multitude of other uses.

Michael Reese Hospital Chicago

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Gropius in Chicago Coalition Protest