A group of preservationists has been making the rounds of the neighborhood Olympic forums I wrote about last week, passing out flyers and pestering officials with questions. They’re not officially opposed to the Olympics, but anyone wondering whether Chicago needs the games should pay close attention to their battle to save the Michael Reese Hospital campus from demolition.
I repeat: many of the preservationists are most emphatically not against bringing the games to Chicago. They’re basically agnostic on the issue: if the games come, fine; if they don’t come, that’s fine too.
But they are fiercely opposed to tearing down the Michael Reese structures. As they see it demolition is not just environmentally unsound (as opposed to reuse) but also culturally reckless, since they believe at least eight of the buildings were designed in part by the great Bauhaus architect Walter Gropius.
“These buildings are impossible to replace, so we should do everything we can to keep from destroying them,” says Grahm Balkany, founder of the Gropius in Chicago Coalition. “We’re talking about cultural resources of international importance. To frivolously destroy them is inexcusable.”
No Games Chicago supports the stay of execution for the hospital site, but we have some advice for the Gropius-lovers, as well as the park lovers and other who are trying to save or preserve what is dear to them from being destroyed by the 2016 Olympics – the advice is this – if you want to be sure that what you love won’t be destroyed, you have to JOIN us to defeat the bid. The 2016 Committee already has authority to do what they want – NO ONE is watching the store and NO ONE will be able to curtail the actions of the 2016 crew if we get the games.