Saving Michael Reese

Olympic Village plan riles critics

The fury of preservationists angry at what they say are broken promises by the city to save the historic main building of the Michael Reese Hospital, now slated for demolition to make way for an Olympic Village or -- if the city does not get the 2016 bid -- private development, reached the pages of the New York Times on Sunday.

"[O]ne of the city’s leading preservationists said a demolition crew had already begun work on the campus, including stripping fixtures from the main hospital building. Many of the post-World War II buildings on the grounds are of particular concern for preservationists because they were designed by the architect Walter Gropius, founder of the Bauhaus," the Times reported.

“This is another midnight bulldozing of a community resource, and a little preview of what’s to come for the residents living in this neighborhood," said Jonathan Fine, the executive director of Preservation Chicago.

Lee Bey first reported on his Urban Observer blog on April 10 that the city had issued a request for qualifications to contractors to demolish the medical campus - along with a terrific set of photos that show why the buildings are so special.

Last month, Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin urged the city to include "the best of the Reese buildings (and courtyards) in which Bauhaus founder Walter Gropius had a hand" in the Olympic Village plan.

On his Skyline blog today, Kamin notes that preservationist Graham Balkany will lecture about the Gropius and Reese tonight at teh Hafele Showroom (154 W. Hubbard St.) at 6 p.m.

Steve Rhodes is the proprietor of The Beachwood Reporter, a Chicago-centric news and culture review. He's also a big fan of Lee Bey's Urban Observer blog.

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