The overwhelming tendency among institutional and commercial organizations is to get rid of old buildings, They often present managers and owners with a host of stubborn problems related to safety, energy efficiency, cost and underutilization. So when an old facility finds new life, the results can be impressive.
The rebirth of old Cook County Hospital would have been worth celebrating in any year. But it took on special meaning in 2020, as doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers battled the deadly coronavirus, reports the Chicago Tribune.
Beautifully remade as a mixed-use building with two Hyatt hotels, a food hall, a day care center and medical offices, the beloved Beaux-Arts landmark began a new chapter in its storied life even as it continued to symbolize the highest ideals of public health.
The redevelopment team transformed a building that had degenerated into a vacant hulk. Mold, moss, trees and ferns grew inside. Squatters covered walls with graffiti. The team wore hazmat suits, fearing they would encounter harmful chemicals left over from the hospital.
The architects carefully restored the old hospital’s classical facade, including its three-story Ionic columns and faces of lions and cherubs. Inside, they reanimated key historic features, like the two-story main lobby and its stylish staircase of gray Tennessee marble. New windows and light wells brightened the ultralong corridors of the 550-foot-long building. Former skylit operating rooms were turned into guest rooms.
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