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Orwellian Chicago

The old Prentice Women's Hospital building 333 E. Superior Street Chicago Sunday October 28 2012.  I John H. White~Sun-Times

The old Prentice Women's Hospital building, 333 E. Superior Street in Chicago, Sunday, October 28, 2012. I John H. White~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 8, 2012 6:32AM

I kind of ignored the lake on my way downtown Thursday before attending the Landmarks Commission session on Prentice Hospital.

But I did take a peek at Marina Towers. They’ll last a while of course. But you never know; those pie-shaped apartments have small kitchens, and aren’t small kitchens obsolete in the era of the Iron Chef?

I took a better look at the 17th Church of Christ Scientist, that weird but appealing dollop of concrete at Wacker and Wabash. That’ll be deemed obsolete sooner than other buildings; it’ll be too bad because it makes the nearby glass boxes look actually interesting. Like the way Prentice stands out in a sea of bland Streeterville buildings.

I have no expertise to enhance architects’ arguments in favor of Prentice. Nor could I refute Northwestern University’s claim that their most expedient path is demolition. If this weren’t Orwellian Chicago, we wouldn’t even be having this argument. Of course, NU could build across the street on another parcel also owned by the blue-blooded behemoth.

Why tear down a building that’s utterly unique? The arguments we heard from NU were more of a stretch than architect Bertrand Goldberg’s cantilever — but less graceful: If Prentice stays, then scientists won’t confab around the water cooler, and not as many diseases will get cured. Too bad scientists are unfamiliar with e-mail.

Of course it’s up to NU to value what’s expedient for them. But should we Chicago residents have the fabric of our city bleached out so NU can save a couple million vs. building across the street? Isn’t it the job of city government to represent us?

The shame here is the craven posturing of the Landmarks Commission — granting a preliminary landmark designation, then pulling out the rug in a subterfuge that obviously had already been weaved.

I’ll admit some demolition makes sense.

Who isn’t happy that the stockyards are gone? But look at the areas ringing the Loop: beige concrete towers of Daley’s era. You can see how Chicago is jostling to become the second city in architecture.

If expedience had always won the day, we wouldn’t even have the lakefront.

Mike Massart,

Albany Park

Awful advertising

When the smoke of this years election clears, perhaps there will be one thing that everyone can agree on. And that is that the awful, almost exclusively negative advertising barrage that resulted from the unlimited spending of Citizens United did nothing to clarify any candidates message, but only to throw mud.

Imagine those billions being available for Sandy relief.

Phil Gant, Near North Side

Getting it wrong

In response to Maureen O’Donnell’s article from Oct, 29, “Leader of pro-choice Catholic group clashes with bishops”: Jon O’Brien has it wrong. Conscience can be ill-formed. No Catholic can claim to be in good conscience and uphold ethnic cleansing, genocide, or abortion as viable Catholic views. The vulnerable child in the womb is unique, living, and human. The church will stand with the vulnerable and defend their right to life. A violent conception or a challenging pregnancy invites pastoral care; however, neither changes the presence of a unique, living, human being. And neither can a conscience deny the unique human presence.

Margie Manczko Breen,

Respect Life Office,

Archdiocese of Chicago

Misguided tax

I don’t think Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle has thought the cigarette tax through.

By adding $1 to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, people won’t quit smoking, they will just quit buying their cigarettes in Cook County. We already have the second highest cigarette tax in the country. People will just drive to collar counties and out of state,,’

Does she realize the losses the state of Illinois will incur just by adding another tax on cigarettes? What about the merchants in Cook County who sell cigarettes?

Mitchell Pierce, Near West Side

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