Founded in the Chicago region in 1931, Baxter International is a multinational healthcare and medical product company that commissioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to design its headquarters in Deerfield, IL, in 1970. Completed in 1975, the rolling suburban campus features 600,000 square feet of office space across six buildings on a landscaped 100+ acre site.
The Baxter headquarters is best known for its Central Facilities Building — designed in 1972 and known as the Campus Center — which is topped by a pair of steel masts that support the cable-stayed roof that enables a largely column-free space for the cafeteria, auditorium, and training center within. Resembling a suspension bridge, the structure is visible from a nearby expressway and is a well-known regional landmark.
More can be found here on the SOM website.
Update: June 8, 2023
Today we have good news for the Baxter site! Thanks to an overwhelming influx of community and architectural opposition to the redevelopment plan, Bridge pulled their proposal for the demolition of the Baxter campus. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far. While this is a welcome update, there is more work to be done to ensure that the site is protected. Docomomo US and our colleagues at Docomomo US Chicago will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates on the future of the site.
Update: April 28, 2023
As many as 500 people showed up for the Baxter hearing and the meeting was postponed to a later date in a larger venue to accommodate more people. The postponed meeting will take place on May 11. Local advocates and the preservation community will be on hand to provide comment. A virtual link can be found here: https://www.deerfield.il.us/448/Village-Meeting-Videos
From Docomomo US/Chicago:
Baxter is restructuring in the wake of poor financial performance and mismanagement, with a spinoff, layoffs, and leadership transition all announced in the first two months of 2023 — alongside news of the sale of its headquarters campus, purportedly to cut costs as it shifts to a hybrid workforce. Listed for sale in May 2022, the healthcare giant has found a buyer in Chicago-based warehouse developer Bridge Industrial as of January 2023.
According to plans filed with the Village of Deerfield Plan Commission, Bridge, a developer specializing in industrial development, is proposing to demolish all existing structures to build three warehouse structures, one of which totals nearly one million gross square feet across a single story. Of the two smaller buildings, one is to be designed as a build-to-suit recreational center for the Deerfield Park District, housing indoor basketball and soccer facilities, but may be converted to warehouse use in the future. Neither the marketing materials nor the developer acknowledge the historic significance of the campus, which are still being used by original owner-occupier, presenting a counternarrative that “given the age and functional obsolescence of the buildings, [Baxter is] in the process of relocating to a to be determined, newer, more functional facility.”
A public hearing for Baxter International is taking place Thursday April 24, 2023 at 7.30pm. Landmark Illinois, Docomomo US/Chicago and Mas Context are sending representatives to speak on behalf of the project. Landmarks Illinois is also looking at including the Baxter Travenol Headquarters on their 2023 List of Most Endangered Historic Places in Illinois.
What you can do.
Anyone who would like to submit written comments before the next hearing date can do so by 11 am on May 5 to have it distributed in the next Commission packet. Comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org and should be addressed to Dan Shapiro, Chairman of the Plan Commission.