Marina City's rich synthesis of living functions reflected an avenue of practice that Bertrand Goldberg developed during the 1950s and 1960s, with designs for theaters, department stores, seaside resorts, motels, and chain restaurants catering to the leisure pursuits of a growing American middle-class. Many of Goldberg’s leisure projects referenced and reformulated relationships between water, architecture, and the automobile—from the linear profile of his Pineda Island Center in Mobile, Alabama, as viewed from U.S. Highway 90, to his enclosed commercial strip for a 1962 version of Marina City in Detroit. Goldberg’s 1958 design for Motel 66 was an early example of his use of signature circular towers, including a combination of plinth and tower that would define nearly all of his mature work. Also important was this project’s reference to the legendary Route 66, which originated in Chicago and for decades led midwestern vacationers west to California.
Goldberg’s adventures with mid-century leisure culture included restaurants for the Jack in the Box chain in Los Angeles and Long Island, New York, fusing the company’s trademark cartoon jester logo with a rigorous geometrical structure reminiscent of work by Austrian designer Frederick Kiesler. Avant-garde designs for theaters were another prominent theme in this period—including a kinesthetic Cinestage movie theater in the former Harris and Selwyn Theaters in Chicago and preliminary studies for a geodesic domed theater for the Expo 58 World’s Fair in Brussels, Belgium, both created for producer Mike Todd. Goldberg’s work on vacation architecture continued into the 1990s with an extraordinary project that transformed the industrial lakeshore of Gary, Indiana, into a futuristic landscape of floating vacation cabins.
Bertrand Goldberg. Pineda Island Recreation Center, Mobile, AL, Perspective Sketch, c. 1960. The Art Institute of Chicago, Archive of Bertrand Goldberg, gift of the Goldberg Family, RX23664/99.110.