Bertrand Goldberg (1913-1997)


Bertrand Goldberg was born in 1913 in Chicago. In 1930, he enrolled at Harvard College, leaving two years later for The Bauhaus in Germany. He worked briefly in the office of Mies van der Rohe before returning to Chicago in 1933 to work for the Keck brothers. In 1937, he opened his own office.

During World War II, Goldberg worked for the government and developed portable medical labs and gun crates. After the war, he formed a partnership with Leland Atwood, which lasted through the early 1950’s, when Goldberg started the firm of Bertrand Goldberg Associates.

Early in his career Goldberg focused on single family residences and industrial design work. His last single family residence was completed in the 1950′s. Throughout the 1950′s, his design proposals covered a broad spectrum: union halls, art centers, office buildings, and residential developments. In 1957, Goldberg built Drexel Gardens on the south side of Chicago, an award winning project.

In 1959, Goldberg started work on Marina City. This project, the seminal work of his career, was finished in 1967. At the same time, another major commission, Astor Tower Hotel, was started.

Throughout the 1960’s and 1970’s, the office of Bertrand Goldberg Associates grew significantly – including in-house engineering and computer software development. Design work focused on numerous large scale hospitals and other major institutional projects up until 1992. Parallel work on urban projects was more exploratory and speculative, and culminated in River City, a successful mixed use development on the Chicago River completed in 1986. The office’s last major built work was Wright College, completed in 1992. Bertrand Goldberg died in 1997.

Marina City (1964-67)

300 N. State Street, Chicago

Marina City was conceived in 1959 by architect Bertrand Goldberg as a “city within a city”; an impetus to ease the exodus of Chicago’s urban middle class to the suburbs. Occupying an entire central city block adjacent to the Chicago River, the mixed-use programme at Marina City efficiently grouped commerce, recreation and education at the lower levels of the city and placed housing above. “Living above the store”, as Goldberg called it, exploited the use of the land in the most efficient way. The buildings were constructed with concrete cast in-situ, a marked departure from the Miesian steel and glass rectilinear boxes populating Chicago in the 1950s and 60s. At the time of construction, the towers were the world’s tallest buildings built of reinforced concrete.

Prentice Women's Hospital (1976)

333 E. Superior Street, Chicago (demolished)

Designed by Bertrand Goldberg Associates, Prentice Women’s Hospital opened in 1976. The five-story, rectangular post-and-beam base was clad in an opaque metal curtain wall with solar bronze glass windows, out of which grew a massive clover-shaped poured concrete tower that dramatically cantilevered back over the glass box base. The quatrefoil shape of the tower facilitated a more humane organization of functions on the maternity floors, in which all bedrooms were designed to be equidistant from the building’s core, which housed the nursing stations and nurseries. This created improved visual and physical connections between the patients and the nurses, as well as between mothers and babies in the nursery. In 2011, a coalition effort called Save Prentice was formed to advocate for the preservation of Goldberg’s building. With support and involvement from preservation organizations including Docomomo US, Landmarks Illinois, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Preservation Chicago, Save Prentice made huge strides in educating the public about the building’s importance. Despite these efforts, Prentice was demolished in 2014.