Live up to Chicago's vision of being a truly sustainable city!
- Alderman of the 46th Ward, City of Chicago
A grave error has occurred. The City of Chicago—known for its high environmental standards, inspiring architecture, and vibrant communities—has issued a demolition permit for the Cuneo Hospital complex, a fine example of mid-century modern civic design that is both well-suited for adaptive reuse and ideally located for a new and remarkable community purpose. Please save Cuneo Hospital.
Carefully designed and beautifully detailed by architect Edo J. Belli, Cuneo Hospital opened in 1957 as a healing place for women and children. Dedicated to the memory of Frank & Amelia Cuneo and built with support from John Cuneo Sr., founder of Cuneo Press and Hawthorn-Mellody Farms, Cuneo Hospital was for years a place of birth, health, and sanctuary for community members from all walks of life.
Along with its progressive long-term care and rehabilitation building designed by Belli & Belli in the 1970s to expand services to cover the whole of life, Cuneo Hospital represents two decades of original design by the founder of a Chicago family architectural firm that continues to work at home and internationally today. Mr. Belli was a rare community-minded individualist, a Chicago-trained architect whose quietly influential work and insightful words have been exhibited and recorded at The Art Institute of Chicago and honored by the Chicago City Council.
Positioning it for optimal solar gain on a tiny piece of irregular land alongside an aging municipal pumping station, Edo Belli filled Cuneo Hospital with extensive daylighting, naturally warmed spaces, and non-mechanical ventilation strategies to take full advantage of its lakeside location. Circular operating rooms used less water and fewer chemicals for cleaning. Modest alcoves and a daylit skybridge offered privacy and protection. Zoning variances allowed for reduced parking and transit-friendly access. The patterned façade, integrated planters, and variegated windows protected birds and spoke to the lakeside location. A shaded terrace tucked under the eaves afforded views of sunrise, sunset, and, through one of Belli's signature circles, the sky and stars. The 1975 building used many of the same strategies, adding extensive use of rooftop terraces.
Cuneo Hospital's history has been forgotten for too long. Its role as a place of vision, faith, and care—often for those who had been turned away elsewhere—has been forgotten. Its cheerful curves and proto-sustainable design features—created in an architectural age often aligned to a square grid and car-centric design—have been forgotten. Even the hospital's architect—who worked to an advanced age to contribute community churches, schools, and hospitals for Chicago and beyond—has been forgotten.
Please remember. Please save Cuneo Hospital and commit to transforming this disremembered gem from our past into a unforgettable model of sustainability for Chicago's tomorrow.
Thank you for your careful consideration.
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