July 29, 2021
Today, the Epstein Top 100 Projects series continues with no. 95, 1955’s Chicago’s Michael Reese Research Foundation Sidney O. Levinson Blood Bank and Serum Center.
This facility, which was located at the then corner of 31st Street and Lake Park Avenue, provided service and research facilities for the foundation's mission to sustain much needed supplies for emergency use. For those not familiar with the history of blood serum, this foundation was at the forefront of the ultraviolet irradiation of serum, which, in a nutshell, eradicates agents within the serum, allowing for the sterilized end product to be used to help fight disease and create vaccinations.
This particular modernist facility was the result of exponential growth in the foundation’s blood serum research and application during the 20s, 30s and 40s. During those decades, the foundation’s blood serum work was done in a variety of smaller, less efficient facilities located throughout the Michael Reese Hospital Campus. It became very clear to the foundation that a more robust and modern facility was required in order to accomplish their altruistic goals.
As such, Epstein was hired to develop plans, based on a Michael Reese master plan by Walter Gropius, the first director of the world famous Bauhaus, and then design and engineer this medical research facility. The building would be named after Sidney O. Levinson, the foundation's first executive director, who was renowned for his work in convalescent serums, the development of plasma in the treatment of shock and pioneered the aforementioned UV irradiation of blood serum.
Sadly, this building is no longer with us. The Michael Reese Hospital closed in 2008 and demolition of this architecturally-significant campus began the following year and continued through 2012.