Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention

Last weekend, I finally have gone to the exhibition of Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention.

At first, I was amazed by how beautifully the great show had been designed with the respect of Renzo Piano’s Modern Wing museum design. The details of walls were consistent with identical trims, and they were softly rounded throughout the galleries with flat mirrored gateways. You can see the space here. I could appreciate John Ronan Architects design reflecting Goldberg’s fascination with curved forms and geometries. Especially, I liked the signature curved wall of concrete at the entrance of the show.

The exhibition had the Goldberg’s work including drawings, models, and photographs, along with his graphic and furniture designs. One drawing that caught my eye at first was the Marina City Theater Roof and Partial Concrete Frame Development drawing.

Marina City Theater, Chicago, IL, Roof and Partial Concrete Frame Development Drawing, 1961-1962

I wonder how difficult it would be to calculate and draft curved roof back then without computer aid.  It was very interesting to see the drawing of the theater in that regard. There were so many beautiful and interesting drawings that took a while to go through. Due to Goldberg’s rounded forms and geometry, most of perspective illustration drawings looked very futuristic and visionary that can be easily appear in Science-Fiction graphics like Archigram.

Health Sciences Center, Stony Brook, NY, Early Perspective, 1971-1973

River City IA, Chicago, IL, Perspective Sketch, c. 1986

San Diego Theater, La Jolla, CA, Perspective, 1967-68

Then, I could find a photo collage work of Delaware Senece Hotel perspective drawing. When I looked closely I was able to see where the fine-cuts were made and how it was done. It was a very delicate work as all were.

Delaware Seneca Hotel, Chicago, IL, Collage Perspective, c. 1974

In addition, his model studies and presentation models were very fascinating to look at. Among them, ABC Office Building model was huge, and I was surprised by the condition of the model for its age.

ABC Office Building, New York, NY, Elevation, Plan, and Model View, 1988

Then, when I saw River City I model, it was a very detailed model with impressive labored work. All the cuts and tiny rods were in right place with three identical tall towers. I couldn’t imagine the amount of time someone had to spend to make them, not one, but three. Restless spirit! However, together, it looked rigid and spectacular personally in my opinion.

River City I, Chicago, IL, Model, c. 1977

I am sure you could find many more interesting works of his at the exhibition although it will end this weekend. (Jan. 15th, 2012) Through Goldberg’s history from North Pole Ice Cream stand (1938) to River City (1980’s), I could witness his consistency and ambitious presentations with creative spirit.

For more information about the exhibition, ArchitecutreChicago Plus has a great post that cover a combination of Goldberg’s exhibitions at The Arts Club of Chicago, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

2 thoughts on “Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention

  1. I only know a few of Bertrand Goldberg’s work ;however, the impact from configration of his design is quite powerful. As a result, corn buildings (the Marina City) became icon for Chicago, I think. The reason would be the curvature of the balcony and roof. I just wonder how he structurally made them safe.

    Antoni Gaudi is another guy for the curved design. I think he was more likely physicist because he kept experiencing for the structural issues with his design. I saw his upside-down model with strings and weight. He used gravity as the leader of how the force propageted through the members of the structure.

    It was quite interesting to see Bertrand Goldberg’s work. However, the sake of this blog, I wished I could hear more your opinion or what you discovered from what you saw. It is difficult, but it will help you how you see the world.

    from 8

  2. Thanks for your comment. The exhibition did not include details of how structure worked together for curvatures. I am sure Bertrand Goldberg should have spent a long time to study & come up with it as I have wondered myself. I found this article: It mentions little bit about the 9″ thick balcony slab at Jeanne Gang’s Aqua Tower that tapered at the edge for drainage and thermal issue. This clearly tells me that I think Marina Towers are much more successful in use of curvatures. Its balconies are all curved 3 dimensionally that it solves both of drainage and thermal. (

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