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Fate of Cook County Hospital to Be Decided in Coming Weeks

Wednesday, September 24, 2014
by AJ LaTrace

The fate of Chicago's old Cook County Hospital is likely to be decided in the coming weeks. Earlier this year, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle announced that the county would finally revive the discussion of a future redevelopment and reuse of the behemoth century-old Beaux-Arts structure and the 10 acres it stands on, and last night the Cook County Bureau of Economic Development and the Chicago Architecture Foundation hosted a meeting to kick off the brainstorm. The building has been closed for more than a decade, and in that time, it has deteriorated significantly. During this period, there have been a number of ideas for the site, including demolition of the Paul Gerhardt designed structure. However, a number of new ideas were presented at last night's meeting.

According to DNAinfo, a majority of the attendees from the community do not support the idea of turning the building into market-rate residences. Some suggestions include transforming the building into affordable housing for seniors, student dorms, a nursing home, or even possibly a museum. In 2003, architect Joe Antunovich and developer Dan McCaffery floated a plan to repurpose the hospital for office space and housing for nurses - a rather practical idea actually. The plan did not move forward however.

One thing everyone can agree on is the preservation and eventual rehabilitation of the building's ornate exterior. The county could possibly still demolish the building however, if the redevelopment of the structure is deemed too costly or impractical. Over the next ten days, community members and planners will work on solidifying redevelopment concepts for the site, and the proposals will be presented on October 7 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation's Lecture Hall. The organization will be livestreaming the charrette presentation on their website.

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