Oct 9, 201301:00 PMPoint of View
Another Architecture Classic Gone
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This article, by Rory Stott, originally appeared on ArchDaily as “AD Classics: Prentice Women’s Hospital / Bertrand Goldberg”
Hospital buildings, with their high standards of hygiene and efficiency, are a restrictive brief for architects, who all too often end up designing uninspiring corridors of patient rooms constructed from a limited palette of materials. However, this was not the case in Bertrand Goldberg‘s 1975 Prentice Women’s Hospital. The hospital is the best example of a series of Goldberg-designed medical facilities, which all adhere to a similar form: a tower containing rooms for patient care, placed atop a rectilinear plinth containing the hospital’s other functions.
Courtesy C. William Brubaker © via Flickr user UIC Digital Collections
Goldberg’s approach was to let the interior requirements of the building define the exterior form, which gave rise to the peculiar plinth-and-tower form of his hospitals. The lower floors contained surgical suites, research laboratories, dining facilities and maintenance areas. Because future developments in medical technology may require spaces to be changed dramatically, Goldberg chose the form of a rectilinear plinth, which provides the greatest possible flexibility. On the other hand, since the role of a hospital (accommodating and caring for patients) was unlikely to change, Goldberg felt the building’s tower need not be flexible. Here, Goldberg was inspired by anthropologists such as Edward T Hall, who were developing theories of human interaction in different spatial orientations.