As preservationists clash with Northwestern University over the fate of Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Hospital (333 E Superior St), the Art Institute of Chicago, which owns the Chicago architect’s archives, opens “Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention” September 17. The exhibition revisits 63 of Goldberg’s projects, including iconic Marina City. Cocurators Alison Fisher and Zoë Ryan, from the museum’s Department of Architecture and Design, talk about the retrospective.
What makes Goldberg relevant to a contemporary audience?
AF His dedication to a practice that moved across scales and tried to intervene in multiple fields is something today’s designers are doing.
ZR Goldberg was at the forefront of so many issues that we still grapple with. What does “mixed-use” mean? What’s the relationship between living in a high-rise and having access to outside space? [This is a question] Jeanne Gang grappled with when she worked on Aqua.
How is “Architecture of Invention” unique?
ZR There have been a couple of exhibitions on Goldberg, but none featured original drawings, models or his furniture.… I think it’s important to show the breadth of his practice. He’s become so synonymous with Marina City, but he did furniture, hospitals, all the way up to urban planning.
I didn’t know he designed furniture.
ZR He was quite cheeky. The steel chair that he developed is bigger than a one-person chair, but smaller than a two-person chair. So it’s a comfy seat for two people who would be seated very tightly together. He was thinking about fostering new relationships to everyday objects.
“Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention” • Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S Michigan Ave (312-443-3600) • Sept 17–Jan 15, 2012; $18, seniors, students and youths 14 and over $12, kids 13 and under free