Destruction of Sasaki and Collins Landscaping at Michael Reese Hospital Campus

In Lynn Becker’s report on impending Michael Reese demolition founder Grahm Belkany informed us that the City of Chicago, in wanton disregard of the great cultural, historical, and ecological value of the Michael Reese Hosptial Campus, has destroyed nearly all of its landscaping. Almost all the trees and ground cover have been scraped bare, and with it, the legacy of the landscape architects Hideo Sasaki and Lester Collins. According to Grahm, what remains are only those trees that shield public view of the destruction scene at the MRH Campus as seen from the surrounding streets. Grahm’s photos show the lovely “before” and the disgusting aftermath committed by the city just a few days ago.

This landscape in this area constituted what art and architecture critic Lynn Becker calls “some of the most beautiful landscapes in the city.” One can only imagine what the soundscape was like then and now, as the MRH Campus is adjacent to Lake Shore Drive: a busy expressway parallel with the shoreline of Lake Michigan.

The City of Chicago’s shameful disregard for its own natural beauty and great architectural legacy puts the lie to its own claim to make the 2016 Olympic Bid the “Greenest” in history. The public hearings now seem an empty gesture; listening to concerned neighborhood residents and the architectural preservationists seem to have been a perfunctory legal chore for Chicago2016.org and the Alderman Preckwinkle.

Rather than throwing our hands up in despair or cynical resignation in the face of “Daley Machine” politics, I believe, as Grahm states, that there is still hope for the Michael Reese Hospital Campus. The GCC calls on everyone who cares about Chicago and great design to come to the critical community meeting on August 11. Please see the event details on Lynn Becker’s report on impending Michael Reese demolition. If you live in Chicago and vicinity, please make a note of this event and try to attend. I am writing a letter of support for the GCC on behalf of the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology.

Posted today, on the Chicago Tribune’s “Cityscape” blog: “The Michael Reese Hospital campus…will come before the Commission on Chicago Landmarks on Thursday, August 6.”

The GCC support page is at http://www.savemrh.com/support/

posted by Eric Leonardson