Bertrand Goldberg's North Pole

Bertrand Goldberg aspired to be known as more than the “round-building architect.” But beyond his iconic Marina City, those corncobs sans kernels, most Chicagoans would be hard-pressed to name another of this native son’s designs—unless you’ve been following the flap over the old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Streeterville, which now faces demolition. Quite accidentally, into the debate enters the Art Institute of Chicago, which, on September 17, opens a retrospective on the Bauhaus-trained architect that has been years in the making. No American museum has ever focused exclusively on Goldberg, despite his imprint on Boston, Phoenix, Stony Brook (New York), and even Mobile, Alabama (he had a knack for hospital complexes). Among the 50 projects featured, the most compelling are his futuristic whatchamacallits. Think food trucks are novel? Goldberg envisioned a portable ice-cream store—the North Pole—in 1938. “Structurally and technically, he was on the forefront,” says Zoë Ryan, the chair of the museum’s Department of Architecture and Design. For those who find interiors just as intriguing, the exhibition offers a peek inside dozens of Marina City apartments, courtesy of the photographer Andreas E. G. Larsson and the architect/Marina City resident Iker Gil.

GO Bertrand Goldberg: Architecture of Invention runs Sept. 17-Jan. 15 at the Art Institute of Chicago.

RELATED: Five Best Things to Do in September »


Photograph: Chicago History Museum/Hedrich-Blessing/HB04878B