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Win or lose, Reese campus threatened

Demolition of the Michael Reese campus, including buildings designed by architect Walter Gropius, could commence immediately, regardless of whether Chicago wins its bid for the Olympics on Friday, said James Peters of Landmarks Illinois.

The group presented a plan to reuse several of the Gropius buildings in the redevelopment of the campus, but neither the city nor Chicago 2016 has given any response, he said.

The Gropius in Chicago Coalition cited a report in The Architect’s Newspaper quoting Chicago 2016’s Cassandra Francis, director of the Olympic Village, saying, “We are actually not considering alternative plans because we have received very positive feedback for our plans from the [International] Olympic committee.  If we do get the games, there is no room for preservation.”

Peters said he’s seen no indication that there has been any evaluation of the feasibility of reusing the historic buildings.  Such an evaluation would not take much time, he said, and there are a number of developers in Chicago “who have experience at reuse and know how to make money at it.”  He points to the award-winning adaptive redevelopment of the South Water Market near UIC.

Preserving the Gropius buildings would enable developers to seek significant historic preservation tax credits, he said.

But planners “seem to have come into this with a cleared-site mentality,” he said.

The Gropius coalition reports that the campus’s laundry building has already been severely damaged.

Peters said there is a great deal of demolition equipment now on the campus.  Demolition contracts were awarded in July.

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Category: development, Olympics, preservation

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