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MODERNIST MONDAY: Bertrand Goldberg

Welcome back to #ModernistMondays! At TTC, we are constantly inspired by modernist architects and artists from past and present. To showcase some of our favorites, we launched #odernistMondays, where we highlight one modernist each month to explore with quick, interesting facts. Our pick this month is a Chicago native with an outside-the-box way of thinking: Bertrand Goldberg.

Bertrand Goldberg, who was raised and worked in Chicago, was born in 1913. Prior to beginning his career, Goldberg studied landscape architecture at the Cambridge School of Landscape Architecture (now part of Harvard), and in 1932, studied at the Bauhaus in Germany, where he learned from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Josef Albers.

During political unrest in Germany, Goldberg returned to Chicago, where he worked for various architects before opening his own practice in 1937. Concerned with efficiency and innovations of architecture, one of his firm’s first commissions was a chain of ice cream parlors. He creatively designed the shops to be easily disassembled and reassembled in different locations.

Working with unconventional materials and forms, Goldberg often used concrete and plywood as the primary materials in his designs. He was hired by the United States Government to design easily disassembled and reassembled housing units for soldiers, which were used during and after World War II.

Goldberg’s magnum opus is Marina City, a mixed-use commercial and residential complex in Chicago. Known as one of the city’s preeminent structures, the two buildings are unique in their use of external columns, referred to as “corn cobs.” The complex included residences as well as an office building, theater, public plaza, rail line, marina, ice skating rink, and even a bowling alley. The apartments are still being rented at affordable prices.

Goldberg reused his popular “corn cob” column style in larger, commercial concrete-clad structures in the following years, such as the Chicago Prentice Women's Hospital at Northwestern University, and the Stony Brook University Hospital in Buffalo, New York. His large–scale urban residential complexes included Chicago’s River City and Hillard Homes.

Although Goldberg passed away in the 1990s, his Marina City complex remains a celebrated Chicago architectural landmark.


“Bertrand Goldberg Archive,” Art Institute of Chicago; “Beauty and Brutalism, The Life of Bertrand Goldberg,”; “Bertrand Goldberg,” Wikipedia


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