Cook County Hospital Administration Building, Chicago

2020 Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Award for Adaptive Use

A pillar of the Illinois Medical District on Chicago’s Near West Side, and a monument to the vital role that public hospitals play in providing medical care to all those in need, the Old Cook County Hospital has at long last been given a second life. Built in 1913-1916 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, the former hospital that spans two city blocks sat vacant and neglected for nearly 20 years. Its massive $140 million rehabilitation and redevelopment, led by Civic Health Development Group, has completely revived the 1913 Beaux-Arts building and created a mixed-use complex that includes a 210-room Hyatt hotel, Cook County medical office space, a food hall and day care. The adaptive use project is especially astounding given the size of the facility and the degree of the former hospital building’s deterioration. The long-threatened building (included four times on the Landmarks Illinois Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois) will now provide economic activity, jobs and a much needed respite for staff and visitors in the medical district.

(Photo Credit MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC)

Project Principals

Development Team: Civic Health Development Group

  • John Murphy, Murphy Development Group
  • Walsh Investors
  • MB Real Estate
  • Plenary Group

General Contractor: Walsh Construction

Design Team:

  • SOM
  • Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates
  • KOO
  • Engage Civil Inc.
  • Rubinos & Mesia Engineers Inc.

Historic Preservation Consultant: MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC

(Photo Credit Dave Burk, SOM)


John T. Murphy, Chairman and CEO, Murphy Development Group

Cook County Hospital is significant as one of Chicago’s grandest public buildings. Its symmetry and balance, arrangement of its exterior forms and use of Classical-style ornamentation exemplifies the design tradition of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts school.

The building was constructed to provide quality medical care to all who entered its doors, and its impressive architecture served to convey the hospital’s importance as a premier public medical institution. The building reflects Cook County’s continued dedication to serving its indigent and under-served populations and its commitment to advancing the field of medicine through research and the development of innovative and pioneering medical practices.

Beyond its monumental presence, Cook County Hospital served the people of Chicago for over eight decades. At the time of its construction, the hospital primarily served immigrants, to the extent that the hospital was dubbed “Chicago’s Statue of Liberty.” During the 1920s, when the Great Migration brought African Americans from the South to Chicago in record numbers, the hospital became a critical resource for the city’s Black community. As one of the few hospitals in Chicago that did not discriminate on the basis of race, Cook County Hospital served African Americans from a wide range of backgrounds. By the mid-20th century, 60% of all African American babies born in Cook County were delivered at Cook County Hospital. Cook County Hospital was also the home to many medical advancements during the 20th century. In 1937, Dr. Bernard Fantus created the first blood blank in the United States at the hospital. The innovation proved so successful in saving lives that within three years over 50 hospitals across the country had established blood banks. Other advancements developed at Cook County Hospital include the medical internship program, the study of pathology, and the first identification of sickle-cell anemia. The hospital was a pioneer in supporting female medical professionals, hiring the first female medical director and first female head of surgery for a major U.S. hospital.

The architectural splendor and medical advancements that occurred at Cook County Hospital contribute to its significance, but for most Chicagoans the thoughtful and accepting care provided throughout the building’s history is what makes it an important part of Chicago’s history.

(Photo Credit MacRostie Historic Advisors LLC)

How did saving this place impact people in your community?

John T. Murphy, Chairman and CEO, Murphy Development Group

While the Cook County Hospital is significant one of the most ornate architectural styles on a grand scale, the legacy of the compassionate and capable care provided within its walls is just as important to preserve for the local community. Located in the heart of the sprawling Illinois Medical District, which over 50,000 people visit each day, the rehabilitation of the hospital was also an opportunity to better support the surrounding medical community.

The redevelopment plan for the hospital and surrounding area was developed with community input. From these conversations, the need for businesses and spaces outside of medical uses became apparent. The hotel provides a place for family members of patients and others to stay within the Illinois Medical District (IMD). The food hall offers a variety of dining options within walking distance of Stroger Hospital and the adjacent Rush Medical Center. The day care center, which will provide convenient childcare for medical workers in the district, also serves as a connection to the building’s history. When first opened, Cook County Hospital featured a school and day care center, primarily for long-term young patients. With approximately 73,000 square feet of medical office space leased by Cook County Health, the building will continue to serve as an important medical facility within the larger IMD complex.

A 600-square-foot museum will also be featured in the building that will focus on the history of Cook County Hospital Administration Building as a way to honor the important history of this place and remember people who passed through the hospital’s doors. These new services and uses are expanding upon and continuing the important legacy of Cook County Hospital by providing the best care and understanding for all people needing medical treatment while also serving as a place of remembrance.

(Photo Credit Torque)

Learn more

Attend the 2020 awards ceremony!


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