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Friday, October 19, 2012

Jeanne Gang tackles Prentice

Posted By on 10.19.12 at 11:06 AM

I'm all in with the flight of fancy that Jeanne Gang has proposed to save Bertrand Goldberg's Prentice Women's Hospital.

Build over it, she's told the New York Times, furnishing the Times with art that makes her idea look not merely intriguing but ravishing. Her three renderings have been posted on the Times website. Here are two of them.

The other day I commented on the Bleader that the problem with Goldberg's building is its ungainly proportions—too much massive pedestal and too little curving concrete. Gang's idea takes care of that—by stripping away a floor of pedestal immediately beneath the concrete that should never have been added in the first place, and flinging 31 scalloped and gleaming stories up into heaven above it.

In every rendering Gang's building looks terrific, and in the night view (chosen by the Times to lead its arts section Thursday) it's beyond terrific. It's a shimmering light show that would strike passersby dumb with awe. We would pay to walk down that street. We would cross oceans.

Just one word of caution. Superstar buildings have a lot in common with Hollywood superstars: they look more glamorous in their publicity stills than they ever do hanging around the hood. An example is Gang's Aqua—a pleasant enough addition to the Grant Park skyline but in close-ups one of the most photogenic buildings ever designed.

The Studio Gang renderings of Prentice do what renderings are supposed to do: make an unbuilt building look so delicious that sensible people will cough up tens of millions of dollars to make it happen. Prentice at night is Prentice on one of those rare translucent nights when light billows like sea spray; perhaps on a lesser night, Prentice would more closely resemble your grandmother's old three-way floor lamp.

But build it by all means. And we'll see.

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