7. LOSS: Demolition of Malcolm X College

The 1971 Modernist masterpiece Malcolm X College was demolished after being replaced with a new college building located across the street. It was designed by Chicago architect, Gene Summers, who worked closely with Mies van der Rohe. The steel and glass structure is surrounded by extensive greenspace and was an outstanding and highly functional example of “High Modernism”.

Within the building, 32 painted mural doors by Eugene “Eda” Wade celebrated the Black Power movement of the 1960s and 70s. These murals enriched the aesthetic experience of students. Through the efforts of Michelle Perkins, a member of the Malcolm X College art faculty, and others in the preservation community, the doors have been saved and the entire collection of 32 doors were recently exhibited at the Chicago Cultural Center.

Preservation Chicago made a series of outreach efforts to save the 1971 building, but despite its important role in Civil Rights and significant architecture, there was little expressed interest, both in the community and downtown, in seeing the building saved and reused. In addition to its design by one of Chicago’s great mid-century architects, this remarkable landmark-quality structure should have been preserved as a monument to Chicago’s African American community.

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