Last week, the city of Chicago announced that demolition of the Michael Reese Hospital campus would begin. And, unlike so many delayed city projects, the demolition of the campus has indeed started.
When I first explored the Michael Reese campus, one of the buildings that stood out to me was the Friend Pavilion. At first glance, it looked like a simple, concrete structure. Small and nestled in a grove of trees and gardens, I didn’t immediately pay much attention to it among the other large, modern structures. However, when I got closer, I was drawn in by Friend’s expansive windows and simple interior.
Friend was built as a place where patients could rest and be rehabilitated. When I was finally able to explore the building from the inside, I struck by how truly peaceful the interior was. Despite being a hospital in the middle of a bustling metropolis, the world inside of the Friend Pavilion was surprisingly tranquil and relaxing. The simple, open rooms and picturesque landscape outside made for a very appealing place to rest. Pictures of the building don’t do it justice.
Not so long ago, not even that much more than a year ago, patients were still being served by the Friend Pavilion. When I first became interested in the hospital campus in early 2008, I visited the Friend pavilion several times and noted that it certainly wasn’t in pristine condition. But, at the same time, the building wasn’t in the dilapidated condition that the city of Chicago pretends that it was in. It was only through purposeful negligence by the city that Friend (like many of the other buildings on the campus) was allowed to deteriorate.
As sad as it makes me to say it, the building never will be restored or recognized for the sanctuary that it was and could have been. This week, the Friend Pavilion was destroyed with little fanfare.