The many songs of Bertrand Goldberg, architect, artist, visionary.
January 11, 2013 8:44 AM Subscribe
Bertrand Goldberg is widely known as the architect who builds round buildings, but little is known about his innovative theories of space and his utopian ideas that have generated these sculptural forms. His work speaks with a vocabulary that is still unfamiliar to some and unappreciated by many. Goldberg’s often repeated statement, "for the first time in the history of the world we can build whatever we can think," seems to have been the beacon guiding his career. While many projects have been fully realized, some others have been only partially implemented, but all have grown out of Goldberg’s unique philosophical, aesthetic, and technological thinking.From the preface to the Oral History of Bertrand Goldberg
Born in Chicago in 1913, Bertrand Goldberg first studied at the Cambridge School of Landscape Architecture (now part of Harvard University), then went to study at Staatliches Bauhaus when he was 18, absorbing the language and theory of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, to solve the problems of the greatest number of people and their widest possible needs. Goldberg paired the transportable, factory produced units and parts for reduced construction costs with modern flexibility of "stronger-than-steel plywood" and concrete (Google quickview; original PDF).
Goldberg's earliest commissions were for single family residences, some of which were just recently re-discovered. From there, he went on to create small public housing complexes to iconic mixed-use complexes, a number of hospitals, commercial complexes, and industrial projects. His career stretched from the 1930s to the 1980s, and while many of his creations still stand (some you can virtually tour in video and print form), others are struggling to compete with demands for modern facilities, with supporters proposing ways to preserve the historic design and continue providing modern services.
If you're looking for more information on Bertrand Goldberg, there are a few key resources online, some of which were highlighted above:
1. Bertrand Goldberg | Chicago Architect is a treasure trove of information and images.
2. Bertrand Goldberg Archive at the Art Institute of Chicago has an extensive online collection, with the ability to zoom into images in the collection.
3. Ball State University has an hour-long audio recording of a lecture by Goldberg, recorded on 1964-12-02, titled "Architect views architecture."
4. ArchiTech Gallery has the text of a speech about Marina City, presented at the seminar on "Architectural Aspects of Edmonton Civic Centre Plan," Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, on September 27, 1959.
5. Forgotten Chicago has a three part series of articles titled Bertrand Goldberg in Tower Town -- Part 1: Bertrand Goldberg’s Commune; Part 2: Postwar Development of Michigan & Pearson; and Part 3: Bertrand Goldberg’s Michigan Avenue Project.
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