March 10, 2022
Preservation Chicago announced yesterday their yearly list of the most endangered places in Chicago including an Epstein-designed and engineered medical office building.
The 50’s era Chicago eye and medical office building – called the 3333 Medical Building - is a grand example of mid-century modernism located at 3333 W. Peterson, just west of the North Branch of the Chicago River. Optometrist Dr. Paul Hurwitz chose Epstein for this assignment and called this building his professional home, as well as offices for numerous other optometrists, general practitioners and pharmacists.
The 3333 Medical Building, constructed and completed in September 1956, featured timber framing with decorative stone accents and masonry, and wood façade. This 1-½-story medical office building also included clerestory windows throughout as well as an in-house pharmacy.
While some of the standout structures remain, Peterson Avenue’s luster has faded. Vacancies currently plague the once booming district, and various design changes have created a hodgepodge of buildings. Vandalized and otherwise neglected buildings have altered the very landscape of the area as well, prompting a push to preserve Peterson Avenue as the Midcentury Landmark District. Historic preservation not only provides an educational component, but a social, economic and cultural one as well.
Our client for this project, the aforementioned Dr. Hurwitz, was a fascinating individual as well. A combat veteran of WWII and a graduate of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the Rush Medical School, Dr. Hurwitz was a huge fan and supporter of music including being the founder, past president and honorary president of the Skokie Symphony Orchestra. He was extremely active raising funds for Jewish causes throughout Chicago and Israel and served as the president of both the Zionist Organization of American and the Zionist Organization of Chicago.
Architecturally, the building still looks pretty good, although the eye-catching metallic 50’s typography identifying the building has been replaced by a generic and bland typeface, and the clean varnished wood façade accents have been stained red, making the Peterson elevation disconnected from its past.
About Preservation Chicago
Preservation Chicago is the only nonprofit advocacy organization entirely devoted to creating, nurturing, and enhancing healthy, vibrant, diverse, and sustainable communities by leveraging the power of Chicago’s historic built environment. Learn more about Preservation Chicago at https://preservationchicago.org/