Bertrand Goldberg Retrospective At The Art Institute

December 12, 2011 6:00 AM

Bertrand Goldberg, American (1913–1997). River City model of unbuilt triad towers, Chicago, IL, 1972-79. Mixed Media. The Art Institute of Chicago, Archive of Bertrand Goldberg, gifted by his children through his estate,

Hours: Mon–Wed 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thurs 10:30 a.m.–8 p.m.; Fri–Sun 10:30 a.m.–5 p.m.
$18 Adults; $12 Children, Students, Seniors; Children under 12, Free

You walk among Chicago’s iconic buildings each day, but how much do you know about their history? Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention, on view at the Art Institute of Chicago through January 15, offers background on some of our most notable buildings as well as an overview of the distinguished architect’s career.

The first comprehensive retrospective of Goldberg’s work, Architecture of Invention includes more than 100 drawings, models, photos, and other materials that illustrate Goldberg’s wide-reaching influence. The Institute owns Goldberg’s archives, and the works on display are drawn from the collection, the Harvard Art Museums, and private collections. Beginning with his early work, the show explores how he delved into pre-fab and low cost housing in the 1950s, moved into partnerships with cultural programs, and ultimately built hospitals and other institutional buildings up until 1992.

Goldberg was born in Chicago and he designed buildings in Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. Locally, he’s best known as the designer of Marina City, the corncob towers on the River that offer a mix of residential and commercial space. He began work on Marina City in 1959, aiming to make the buildings “a city within a city,” which helped transform downtown Chicago into a place that people could both live and work. It was finished in 1967.

Bertrand Goldberg, American (1913–1997). Marina City, Chicago, IL, 1985. Marker on trace. The Art Institute of Chicago, Archive of Bertrand Goldberg, gifted by his children through his estate.

Other noteworthy buildings include Health Science City at the State University of New York, River City in Chicago, and Drexel Homes, a public housing project on the South Side.
It’s worth a visit to the show to take a look at how these major buildings came to be part of our urban landscape, and see the sketches and models that ultimately became buildings that housed Chicagoans’ daily lives.

Check out a second show of Goldberg’s work, Bertrand Goldberg: Reflections, at the Arts Club of Chicago. This show delves more deeply into the architect’s personal life, by showing his collection of art and artifacts. It’s on view through January 13.

For more information, visit

Amy Cavanaugh, CBS Chicago