Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Michael Reese Property Could Become Technology Park?

There has been a lot of discussion on what will happen with the property where the old Michael Reese hospital used to sit. Based on a story last week, it sounds as if the city is thinking about turning it into a technology park:
Mayor Daley says the city is thinking of turning the site of the former Michael Reese Hospital into a high technology park.

The mayor says the site is perfect for businesses because it's close to expressways, public transportation and McCormick place. Daley has appointed an advisory panel to determine if the idea is feasible and he expects recommendations in a few months.

Ok, well something being built at this site is better then nothing, but it seems like a waste to turn this into a technology park in my opinion since the land is so close to the lake. But what do I know...

For more information on Technology Parks check out this link.


Anonymous said...

It will be a miracle if anything is built there for a very long time given this economy. And it will be hugely more expensive to build something new than restoring what was already there.

It is to the city's shame that the Michael Reese buildings that Walter Gropius contributed to were destroyed for no particular reason other than Toni Preckwinkle -- when she was still alderman and could have stopped it -- decided it should be done. So a huge suite of buildings whose design was supervised by the master of Bauhaus were destroyed. What could have been a tourist draw for modernist architecture buffs when combined with the Mies van der Rohe-designed IIT campus was wiped out. And architecture tours draw lots of tourists in Chicago.

It was an act of cultural vandalism that would have been unthinkable in a city that took its cultural legacy seriously. But then, Chicago is famous not only for its architecture but the cavalier way it has destroyed some of those treasures.

Anonymous said...

Looks like the perfect place for a fish farm.

Matt said...

This could be a nice boost for the south loop. A neighborhood bordered to the north by the loop and to the south a technology park that would bring more jobs to the area. Those people will need places to live, shop, eat and drink. Much better than adding even more housing.

Anonymous said...

"Tourist for modern architecture buffs" ? That is a huge stretch. There is not that much modern work in Chicago that people are getting in line to see, other than the tourism aspects of Sears Tower and Hancock. I doubt many would line up to see post WW II Soviet Block style buildings and a master plan inspired by the automobile.

Now, I will give you the green angle where an adaptive reuse plan could have been devised for the site, but Chicago would have had to basically give the property away to someone to possibly create a corporate campus type setting found in the I-88 corridor like Naperville, or perhaps some University willing to take it on.

What I find ironic is the same "modernists" crying about this loss, are the same ones that moan about places like Dearborn Park, for reasons like there is
no through-fare, or the buildings that turn their back to State or Clark St. Yet the whole Michael Reese is the same if not worse for similar reasons.
(I agree with that). For these buildings, they were built in a hurry as fit for purpose style 20 year structures. There is no incredible block face masterpiece, ornamentation, relation, etc.

These buildings were garbage - not all old is worth remembering; They are a dime a dozen in crappy areas of Chicago and NW Indiana.

Anonymous said...

"These buildings were garbage" ... uh, tell that to long list of perservationists and architectural historians who campaigned to save these buildings. Walter Gropius is one of the giants of modern architecture, and he was the master planner of the modern buildings at Reese. Comparing his work to Soviet, I assume you mean Stalinist era, architecture or Dearborn Park displays a lack of understanding of the whole issue.

And yes, lots of people go on tours of the IIT campus, and other Mies works in Chicago. Many tourists are drawn here by the architecture. It may not be to your taste, but it's difficult to overstate the importance of Gropius and Mies to the history of architecture.

Anonymous said...

Well please condemn me because I always thought those buildings were an eye sore. They look like my high school circa 1965. If that is architecture worth preserving then help us all.

Also, it is usually cheaper to start a new construction than to rehab.

Anonymous said...

"A lot of tourists?" Compared to what actually makes money, the interests in this stuff is not even remotely commercially viable for tours, and that is with people who volunteer their time to do the tours.
You can't have everything for free, it has to make money or at least pay for itself. This stuff does not have mass appeal, or historical commercial criticality, ever.

These organizations do a great job of working to save many important assets, but they are hampered by Govt partnership in creating a more full life cycle process. Simply getting something put on the orange list is hard, but they would be more successful at working toward an adaptive reuse process, for housing and commercial uses.

These supporting preservationists better be ready to show the money for Reese. Frankly for a fraction of the money to save Reese, the city would get 10,000% more housing, civic, commercial, and neighborhood benefit by a more focused program on saving, restoration, and conversion of the various boulevard homes in Bronzeville area like King Drive, Giles, Prairie, Michigan, etc.

In addition to developing a potential jobs & skills program (if done right), this could be a real affordable housing program, not a wolf in sheep's clothing, where the "affordable housing" costs more than market rate housing. Involving the right partners, like IIT, would also offer some outstanding scholastic training opportunities in architectural restoration support, construction project management, etc.