Bertrand Goldberg, the architect

Goldberg presenting a model of Marina City

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Bertrand Goldberg was an architect with strong interests in individual solutions of unique character and innovation. Two themes may be traced throughout practice during his long career. First, his early designs were highly personal and, especially in the residential work, attentive to individual spatial needs. The other theme concerns a serious and inventive investigation into materials and construction issues. These two themes return in Goldberg’s later work, albeit in different guises.

While his early commercial and industrial projects were noticed for their creative solutions to new problems, they were not easily adaptable to large-scale industrial concerns of the time. By the early 1950s Goldberg was searching for new directions for his practice. At the end of this decade, he had developed two large commissions, first Astor Towers and then Marina City, the crowning and central achievement of his career.

After Marina City, Goldberg’s interests were projected into larger social and political concerns, culminating in a concentration on progressive planning. The office built the Hilliard Homes in the mid-1960’s as public housing and offered many schemes for further mixed-use residential complexes, only one of which, River City, was finally built in Chicago in the 1980s. His deep interest in the programmatic was evidenced by his significant work in both education and healthcare, with numerous schools and hospitals designed and built in the three decades of work following Marina City. In almost all these projects, the investigation of his firm into construction technology resolved primarily with use of concrete, both in refinements of form and structure made possible by the structural use of this material.