Theses Master's

Bertrand Goldberg: Preserving a Vision of Concrete

Sforza, Andrea N.

This thesis seeks to evaluate how an architect’s intentions play a role in preservation and conservation work on the exterior surface of modern concrete structures; more specifically, the impact coating has on exposed concrete structures. To do this, the body of work of architect Bertrand Goldberg will be analyzed. Bertrand Goldberg’s architecture, characterized by monumental curvilinear concrete forms, has been the subject of both praise and scorn in recent years. Goldberg is among a generation of architects who designed their work in reinforced concrete for both the freedom of form and the economy that it provided. Because the aesthetic of exposed concrete has generally been either dismissed or entirely despised, many of these buildings, including Goldberg’s, have been subject to coating treatments which completely transforming the character of the building. These repairs or restorations are often inconsistent with, and insensitive to, the intentions of the original architects who prioritized the surface of the concrete exterior as part of the overall expression of the architectural work. Continuously changing perceptions of architecture expressed in exposed concrete along with the growing acknowledgment of Goldberg as an influential architect of the 20th century are increasing the amount of attention that we place in understanding his use of concrete and his intentions for the finished work. This increased attention is changing how we determine treatment and preserve his buildings today. Through a methodology that involves studying Goldberg’s design strategy, use of concrete, and how a few of his projects (Marina City, Raymond Hilliard Center, and River City II) have been conserved over the past half century, a greater understanding of Goldberg and his concrete buildings will arise. This understanding will serve to make the case that what remains of Goldberg’s exposed concrete is significant and worth trying to save.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Historic Preservation
Thesis Advisors
Prudon, Theodorus H.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
July 6, 2017