Designer: Bertrand Goldberg

We proudly celebrate the work of Bertrand Goldberg, a prominent 20th century architect who studied at the Bauhaus in Germany and is famous for his iconic Marina City towers in Chicago.
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Humanism involves certainly the restoration of the individual experience.

Bertrand Goldberg

In February of 2018, Wright hosted an auction dedicated to the collaboration, collecting and creations of Bertrand Goldberg and his artist, mother-in-law Lillian Florsheim.
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Pioneering Architect

Bertrand Goldberg

One of several Americans who studied at the Bauhaus, Bertrand Goldberg is unique for his extensive and productive architectural career that spanned from the 1930s into the 1990s. Born in Chicago, Goldberg first went to Harvard before going to study at the Bauhaus in Germany, working briefly in the small office of Mies van der Rohe in Berlin. After returning to Chicago, he started his own firm in 1937, working on both single family residences and industrial design, with his custom answers burnished with his growing knowledge of manufacturing. 

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Living is not just shelter. It is a quality of environment that enhances the ability of people to act on their own and develop whatever they are capable or desirous of developing.

Bertrand Goldberg

Bertrand Goldberg 1913–1997

Born in 1913 in Chicago, Bertrand was exposed to new ways of thinking at an early age. His older sister had broken conventions and was active in radical street theater and the Goodman Theater, a hotbed of progressive thinking. Bertrand left Chicago to study architecture at Harvard College and then went to the Bauhaus in Berlin, one of several Americans at this exceptional, short-lived school for architecture, design and the arts. He worked in Mies van der Rohe’s office, and returned to the United States at the end of 1933 when the Bauhaus was closed. Guided by Philip Johnson to return to Chicago, Bertrand began working in 1934 for the modernist architects Keck and Keck. In 1937, he started his own practice, doing both residential projects and industrial design. He designed prefabricated housing in 1939, and expanded his involvement into factory production of their premade components. During the war he put this knowledge to work for the government, designing portable medical labs that could readily be demounted and assembled. These early projects furthered Bertrand’s interest in structures that could be quickly and affordably constructed, eventually leading to the architect’s embrace of advantageous forms and techniques.

In 1946, Bertrand married Nancy Florsheim, daughter of Lillian and Irving Florsheim of the Florsheim Shoe Company. His mother-in-law, Lillian, was an accomplished artist and avid art collector and the two formed a friendship with shared appreciation of materials, formal innovation and a deep interest in the formal issues of design. At the end of the 1950s, Goldberg began work on two large commissions: the residential high-rise, Astor Tower, was followed by his masterwork, Marina City, the project for which he is best known. This massive project was an entirely new concept in urban planning, and the culmination of his unique design philosophy and innovative engineering. A “city within a city”, it was a complex which encompassed all aspects of life—residential apartments for the middle class, dining and entertainment, and offices and recreational areas were all contained within a meticulously planned urban environment. Socially progressive, Bertrand continued to apply his design philosophy to affordable housing projects, hospitals, college campuses and residential buildings in years following. Bertrand Goldberg Associates also grew, employing over 100 people by the end of the 1970s. His office’s last major commission was Wright College, a five building campus in Chicago’s northwest side, completed in 1992; Bertrand died five years later. His legacy remains visible in the Chicago Skyline, and Bertrand Goldberg’s designs continue to be among the most recognizable and defining buildings of the city.